A slender bodied salamander with a relatively long, laterally-flattened tail. The background is usually black, but can also be dark brown. The animals possess yellow spots, which do not follow a pattern. They usually also have red spots on the head. Adults of both sexes attain a snout-vent length of about 200 mm, sometimes longer. The females are usually larger than males. The male's cloaca is much more swollen than the female’s cloaca.
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Algeria, Morocco
This species may be extinct in Tunisia. In the countries where it occurs, it only lives in the north. If the species is found at the southernmost boundaries of its distribution, it usually lives at higher altitudes. This species occurs from near sea level to 2010 m, and is generally restricted to oak or pine forests, but there have been reports of this species living in unforested areas. Type locality is Mount Edough near Annaba, Algeria from an elevation of approximately 1,000 m.
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Salamandra algira lives in oak or mixed forests, sometimes in caves. They spend the day under logs, snags, stones, or even in rodent burrows and holes. The activity of this species stops during the summer period. When the rain starts to fall in November the animals become active again. The breeding season occurs in the winter months. The animals mate on land, and can give birth to completely metamorphosed young salamanders, but usually give birth to larvae.
Relation to Humans
The Arabic common name for this species, Arous Chta, means "bride of the rain."
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
Although described as a full species, the Algerian salamander was later considered to be a subspecies of the common European salamander, Salamandra salamandra. Veith (1994) raised this salamander to the full species based on an eletrophoretic study. This was later further supported by a DNA study by Veith et al. (1998)
A possible subspecies is described in Morocco, west from Ceuta. These animals are smaller, have a shorter tail, possess no red coloration, and have a dark-brownish color with granite yellow spots. They also can give birth to completely metamorphosed young salamanders (Donaire Barroso and Bogaerts 2001)
Donaire, B. D., and Bogaerts, S. (2001). ''Observations on viviparity of Salamandra algira in North Morocco.'' Herpetologia Candiana. P. Lymberakis, E. Valakos, P. Pafilis, nd M. Mylonas, eds., SEH, Irakleio, 147 – 151.
Schleich, H. H., Kastle, W., and Kabisch, K. (1996). Amphibians and Reptiles of North Africa. Koeltz Scientific Publishers, Koenigstein.
Veith, M. (1994). ''Ioenzymelektrophoretische Untersuchungen am Feuersalamander - Beispiele fur den Einsatz einer modernen Technik.'' Elaphe, 2(1), 53.
Veith, M., Steinfartz, S., Zardoya, R., Seitz, A., and Meyer, A. (1998). ''A molecular phylogeny of 'true' salamanders (family Salamandridae) and the evolution of terrestriality of reproductive modes.'' Journal of Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 36, 7-16.
Written by Ted Papenfuss and Vance Vredenburg (asiaherp AT uclink.berkeley.edu), MVZ
First submitted 2002-02-25
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2007-12-14)
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on
amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2016. Berkeley, California:
(Accessed: Feb 7, 2016).
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