|Size:||Length: 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm), including the tail|
|Diet:||Worms, slugs, flies, beetles and other insects|
|Distribution:||Central and South Europe, Northwest Africa and Southwest Asia|
|Young:||20 to 75|
|IUCN Status:||No special status|
|Terms:||No special terms|
|Lifespan:||Up to 20 years|
· The term “salamander” comes from an Arabian term meaning “lives in fire.”
· Female fire salamanders tend to be slightly larger than males.
· In the Ukraine, where fire salamanders are endangered, they are featured on a 2000 postage stamp.
· The fire salamander is also known as the European salamander.
These brightly coloured animals are the largest members of the Salamandridae family. They have a black body with yellow or orange markings on their skin, which is smooth and rubbery to the touch.
This salamander can be found in wooded, moist areas of Europe, except for Great Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia and the coast regions of the Northern and Baltic Sea. They are also found in southwest Asia and northwest Africa (the northern regions of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia).
In sufficient light, they hunt by watching for movement of prey, ignoring anything that stays still. In darkness, they use their sense of smell to locate food, which includes worms, slugs, flies, beetles and other insects.
During mating season, male fire salamanders chase after other salamanders until they find a female. The male then crawls under her and rubs his head on her chin. If the female is receptive, he drops a sac of sperm on the ground. She then lies across the sac and absorbs the sperm to fertilize her eggs. She carries the eggs inside until the next spring, when she releases them into the water. By that time, they have turned into larvae with gills and will spend the next three months swimming and eating tiny water insects. During that time, they grow and develop to the point where they can crawl out of the water and begin their lives as land creatures.
Fire salamanders are nocturnal, hiding during the day under a log or rock. They also burrow shallow tunnels in the ground, especially for warm days, so they can keep cool in the moist soil. Unlike most salamanders, who need to keep warm, fire salamanders are most comfortable in temperatures ranging from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (16 to 21C), and show signs of heat stress when temperatures climb any higher. During the winter, they hibernate in the crevices of wood, contributing to the myth behind their name—Fire salamanders are often seen running out of fireplaces when the log they have been resting in is put in a fire. Legends said they were born in fire and are immune to fire. In fact, fire salamanders have very thin skin and are actually very susceptible to fire. When threatened, they secrete a sticky toxic substance from their pores. The toxin can kill small mammals and may even cause temporary blindness and vomiting if ingested by a person.
Fire salamanders are not a conservation concern at this time, partly due to stronger legislations that have been put into place to reduce the numbers caught for the pet trade and for research. Because fire salamanders stay in one territory for their entire lives, they are susceptible to pollution and development of their ranges.
Fire Salamander Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US