Salamandrina terdigitata
Southern Spectacled Salamander, Brillensalamander, Salamandrina dagli occhiali, Brillesalamander, Prillsalamander, Salamandra de antejos, salamandrine à lunettes, Pápaszemes szalamandra, Brilsalamander, Salamandra okularowa, Simälasisalamanteri, Glasögons
family: Salamandridae
subfamily: Salamandrininae

© 2006 Henk Wallays (1 of 10)

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.

Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
See IUCN account.
Other International Status Listed in appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
National Status None
Regional Status Protected by law in a few Italian regions (Gasc 1997).


Salamandrina terdigitata is a tiny salamander with a mean size of about 3 cm and 7 cm as estimated from the SVL and the TOTL, respectively (Romano et al. in press). Total length up to 9.76 cm in the largest females (Romano et al. in press).

The body is dorsoventrally flattened, with clearly visible ribs, giving the salamander a very skinny appearance. No parotoids. Four toes on both the front and the hind feet. Underside of the tail and the feet, and frequently the distal part of the belly, are bright red. Salamandrina is usually deep brown or gray-blackish on the dorsal side of body and tail. Tail is also partially reddish on its dorsal side. The ventral region is white, whitish or greyish, with dark gray to black spots. On the head a V–shaped, more or less evident whitish or yellowish spot between the eyes, forms a sort of “spectacles” which are the origin of the common name of this Italian endemic genus Salamandrina: Spectacled Salamander.

Sexes do not show any variation in external body features. As in S. perspicillata, probably males are smaller than females, they show a little difference in the medium ratio of tail length and body length, males have relatively more developed feet, larger head and eyes, distant nostrils (Vanni, 1980). Unfortunately, because the biometric parameters of males and females overlap each other partially (Vanni, 1980), they cannot be used to distinguish the sexes (Lanza, 1983; Zuffi, 1999).

Salamandrina terdigitata can be distinguished from S. perspicillata on the basis of mtDNA haplotypes and allozyme profiles (Mattoccia et al. 2005; Nascetti et al. 2005; Canestrelli et al. 2006), but these two species differ also in body size and dorsal coloration (Romano et al. in press) and in the ventral pattern (Costa et al. 2008). Salamandrina terdigitata has a smaller size and more extended red coloration on the tail, and it more often exhibits a median reddish dorsal line than does S. perspicillata (Romano et al. in press). At the moment, the only way to definitively distinguish between the two species is on the basis of mtDNA haplotypes and allozyme profiles, because any distinction on the basis of body size and dorsal coloration is only statistical and is not definitive for any given specimen. In other words, to attribute individuals to either of the two species, the morphometry and the dorsal and ventral pattern can be very useful, but they are not determinative. However the percentage of correct classification is very good using these non-genetic approaches (> 90% in both methods).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Italy

View distribution map using BerkeleyMapper.
Salamandrina terdigitata is endemic to southern peninsular Italy in the Apennine Mountains (where it is widespread) and other hilly areas, south of Caserta province (Campania region, southern Italy; north of this it is replaced by Salamandrina perspicillata). It is usually found at elevations between 200 and 900m asl, but might occur between near sea level and 1,500 m asl. The northernmost limit of Salamandrina terdigitata is in the province of Benevento, Campania region (roughly at 41°19’00”N) in a small area which overlaps the range of S. perspicillata (Romano et al. in press). The southernmost limit of S. terdigitata is in the municipality of Palizzi, province of Reggio Calabria, Calabria, roughly at 37°58'00”N (Barbieri and Pellegrini 2006); also the westernmost population of this species occurs in the province of Benevento, Campania, roughly at 14°32'00”E (Romano et al. in press); the eastern limit is province of Cosenza, Calabria, roughly at 16°48'00”E (Barbieri and Pellegrini 2006). Distribution and abundance in the southern Italy is probably still underestimated (cf. Romano et al. in press). It is mainly found in forests with dense undergrowth in hilly and mountainous areas but also in Mediterranean bush vegetation. Breeding sites are generally well-oxygenated waters, slow running streams usually with rocky beds, springs, drinking troughs and small ponds.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
S. terdigitata is a relatively stenoecious species linked, for its reproduction, to clear cold streams or, sometimes, to small, rocky oligotrophic ponds. Little information is available on the ecology and reproductive biology of this species.

Although no first hand data are available for S. terdigitata, some information may be inferred from the congeneric species S. perspicillata for which a lot of data have been published. For S. perspicillata, only females are aquatic during the short oviposition phase. Female S. perspicillata lay eggs one at a time over the course of some days attaching them with a short peduncle on aquatic substrates such as the stems of emergent vegetation and larger detritus including submerged twigs and branches. In some sites large aggregations of eggs can be observed, laid by multiple females. The largest populations of S. terdigitata occur in Basilicata and in Calabria and, in particular, in the Parco Nazionale del Pollino. The spawning season extends from April to June and larvae can overwinter in the water bodies (Romano unpublished data). For more detailed comments on the Life History, Activity, and Special Behaviors of this related species, see the S. perspicillata account.

Trends and Threats
This species is relatively common in some parts of its range, but habitat alteration and stream pollution have resulted in the decline or disappearance of several populations. S. terdigitata is currently protected by law in a few Italian regions (Gasc 1997).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
Long-distance pesticides, toxins, and pollutants


Salamandrina terdigitata (Lacépède (1788) was previously considered the unique species within its genus. However in the genus Salamandrina two species were recently recognized using both mitochondrial and nuclear genetic markers (Mattoccia et al. 2005; Nascetti et al. 2005; Canestrelli et al. 2006). The previous taxonomic authority of Salamandrina terdigitata was Lacépède (1788). However the “Histoire Naturelle des Quadrupèdes Ovipares” by Lacépède (1788), where the Spectacled Salamander received its first name, and all subsequent editions of this work are been rejected as unavailable, non–binomial works (Opinion 2104 of the BZN, Vol.62, 1, 2005). Therefore Salamandrina terdigitata (Bonnaterre 1789) is the next oldest available name that must replace the unavailable name Salamandrina terdigitata (Lacépède 1788), according to the Principle of Priority (Article 23.3.5 of the ICZN).


Barbieri, F., and Pellegrini, M. (2006). ''Salamandrina terdigitata.'' Atlante degli Anfibi e dei Rettili d'Italia / Atlas of Italian Amphibians and Reptiles. R. Sindaco, G. Doria, E. Razzetti, and F. Bernini, eds., Edizioni Polistampa, Firenze.

Canestrelli, D., Zangari, F., and Nascetti, G. (2006). ''Genetic evidence for two distinct species within the Italian endemic Salamandrina terdigitata.'' Herpetological Journal, 16, 221-227.

Costa, C., Menesatti, P., Raimondi, S.. Angelini, C., and Utzeri, C. (2008). ''Using image analysis on the ventral colour pattern to discriminate between Salamandrina perspicillata and Salamandrina terdigitata.'' Societas Herpetologica Italica/Edizioni Belvedere, Latina,

Lacépède, B.G.E., and de La Ville, Comte de (1788). Histoire naturelle des quadrupèdes ovipares, et des serpentes. Volume I.. Imprimerie du Roi Hotel de Thou, Paris.

Lanza, B. (1983). Anfibi, Rettili (Amphibia, Reptilia). AQ/1/205. Collana del Progetto Finalizzato ''Promozione della Qualità dell'Ambiente''. Guide per il riconoscimento delle specie animali delle acque interne italiane. Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Roma.

Lanza, B., and Canestrelli, D. (2002). ''Atypische Farbung bei Salamandrina terdigitata (Lacépède, 1788) und Bufo viridis viridis (Laurenti, 1768).'' Salamandra, 382, 105-108.

Mattoccia, M., Romano, A., and Sbordoni V. (2005). ''Mitochondrial DNA sequence analysis of the spectacled salamander, Salamandrina terdigitata (Urodela: Salamandridae), supports the existence of two distinct species.'' Zootaxa, 995, 1-19.

Nascetti, G., Zangari, F., and Canestrelli, D. (2005). ''The spectacled salamanders, Salamandrina terdigitata (Lacépède, 1788) and S. perspicillata (Savi, 1821): genetic differentiation and evolutionary history.'' Rend. Fis. Acc. Lincei, 16, 159-169.

Romano, A., Mattoccia, M., Marta, S., Bogaerts, S., Pasmans, F. and Sbordoni, V. (in press). ''Distribution and morphological characterization of the endemic Italian salamanders Salamandrina perspicillata (Savi, 1821) and S. terdigitata (Bonnaterre, 1789) (Caudata: Salamandridae).'' Italian Journal of Zoology

Sindaco, R., Doria, G., Razzetti, E., and Bernini, F. (eds). (2006). Atlante degli Anfibi e dei Rettili d'Italia / Atlas of Italian Amphibians and Reptiles. Societas Herpetologica Italica.. Edizioni Polistampa, Firenze.

Vanni, S. (1980). ''Note sulla Salamandrina dagli occhiali Salamandrina terdigitata (Lacépède, 1788) in Toscana (Amphibia Salamandridae).'' Atti della Società Toscana di Scienze Naturali, Memorie Serie B, 87, 135-159.

Zuffi, M.A.L. (1999). ''Salamandrina terdigitata (Lacépède, 1788) – Brillensalamander.'' Handbuch der Reptilien und Amphibien Europas, Band 4/1 chwanzlurche (Urodela) I. K. Grossenbacher and B. Thiesmeir, eds., Aula-Verlag, Wiesbaden, 229-246.

Written by Antonio Romano (antonioromano71 AT, Università di Roma, Tor Vergata
First submitted 2000-01-12
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2010-09-21)

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2016. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: (Accessed: May 30, 2016).

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