AmphibiaWeb - Hydromantes supramontis


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Hydromantes supramontis (Lanza, Nascetti & Bullini, 1986)
Supramonte Cave Salamander, Geotritone del Supramonte, Salamandra cavernicola del Supramonte
Subgenus: Speleomantes
family: Plethodontidae
subfamily: Plethodontinae
genus: Hydromantes
Hydromantes supramontis
© 2015 Dr. Joachim Nerz (1 of 20)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Endangered (EN)
National Status None
Regional Status Appendix II, Bern Convention 2002; Annex II, Annex IV, EU Habitats Directive


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Total length to 135 mm for males (average 109 mm), up to 133 mm for females (average 113.5 mm). Adult females, especially older individuals, clearly have a more stocky build than males. Tail oval in cross section and slightly less than half the total length. Limbs well developed, hind legs slightly longer than front legs. Front feet with 4, hind feet with 5 broad, flattened digits.

Coloration highly variable, even within populations, as in other Hydromantes species. Base color from dark brown to black, with spotted, blotched or marbled pattern. Pattern may be in yellow, gray-green or olive. Some individuals have an entirely yellow dorsum (the "flavus"-type). A dark V, inverted V or X-shaped pattern can be present in the neck. Rarely there is a streak, continuous or not, alongside the flanks stretching from the nares or eyes to the tail base. The ventral side is bright and sometimes translucent, showing the abdominal organs and their contents. Although the central part of the venter is usually plain, a brown or black spotted, blotched, marbled or reticulated throat, venter and tail may also be present (Boehme et al 1999).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Italy

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View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
amphibiandisease logo View Bd and Bsal data (17 records).
This species is an endemic of central-eastern Sardinia. It is found around the Gulf of Orosei, between the valley of the Cedrino River and the province of Nuoro, at about 40 degrees N (Gasc 1997). Like other members of the genus Hydromantes, H. supramontis is often found under rocks and in limestone caves, with one individual found at a depth of 290 m (Boehme et al. 1999). This species also occurs in great numbers in surface biotopes, where it mainly inhabits Mediterranean oak forests. In forest habitat it shelters between rocks and moss cushions in the vicinity of streams (Nöllert and Nöllert 1992). The preferred temperature of H. supramontis and other Sardinian Hydromantes species is slightly higher than that of mainland species (Boehme et al. 1999). It generally occurs at altitudes between 100 and 1,400 m asl (Stuart et al. 2008).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
View a video of H. supramontis feeding.

Salamanders of the genus Hydromantes are the most extreme amphibian specialists at capturing prey with their tongues. Members of this genus not only have the longest tongues, but launch the tongue and the entire tongue skeleton out of the mouth ballistically (not simply by protrusion) (Deban et al. 2007; Deban et al. 1997). The tongue skeleton fires out well past the point where the protractor muscles are able to exert force, thus becoming a projectile (Deban et al. 1997). For Hydromantes supramontis, the tongue is extruded up to 60 mm (80% of body length) in less than 20 milliseconds, and the cartilaginous tongue skeleton shoots completely out of the mouth. This ability to shoot part of the visceral skeleton completely outside of the body is known only in certain plethodontid salamanders (Deban et al. 1997).

This species is a direct developer with a small clutch size (Stuart et al. 2008).

Trends and Threats
Threats include habitat loss and illegal collection for the pet trade. Its range overlaps with at least one protected area, Parco Nazionale Gennargentu e Golfo di Orosei (Stuart et al. 2008). Although it has been reported by Voesenek et al. (1987) that this species reaches high densities in certain areas, up to 300 animals per hectare, it has a limited range and appears to have become more difficult to find in recent years. This species was listed as Endangered in 2006 (Stuart et al. 2008).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Intentional mortality (over-harvesting, pet trade or collecting)


Boehme, W., Grossenbacher, K., and Thiesmeier, B. (1999). Handbuch der Reptilien und Amphibien Europas, band 4/I:Schwanzlurche (Urodela). Aula-Verlag, Wiesbaden.

Deban, S. M., O’Reilly, J. C., Dicke, U., and van Leeuwen, J. L. (2007). ''Extremely high-power tongue projection in plethodontid salamanders.'' The Journal of Experimental Biology, 210, 655-667.

Deban, S., Wake, D. B., and Roth, G. (1997). ''Salamander with a ballistic tongue.'' Nature, 389, 27-28.

Gasc, J.-P. (1997). Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica, Bonn, Germany.

Nöllert, A. and Nöllert, C. (1992). Die Amphibien Europas. Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH and Company, Stuttgart.

Stuart, S., Hoffmann, M., Chanson, J., Cox, N., Berridge, R., Ramani, P., Young, B. (eds) (2008). Threatened Amphibians of the World. Lynx Edicions, IUCN, and Conservation International, Barcelona, Spain; Gland, Switzerland; and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Stumpel-Rieks, S. E. (1992). Nomina Herpetofaunae Europaeae. AULA-Verlag, Wiesbaden.

Voesenek, L.A.C., van Rooy, P.T.J.C. and Strijbosch, H. (1987). ''Some autecological data on the urodeles of Sardinia.'' Amphibia-Reptilia, 8, 307-314.

Originally submitted by: Arie van der Meijden (first posted 1999-12-08)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker, Michelle Koo (2021-01-22)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Hydromantes supramontis: Supramonte Cave Salamander <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 22, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 22 Jun 2024.

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