© 2007 Dr. Peter Janzen (1 of 70)
Size: up to 250 mm, sometimes almost 300 mm.
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Macedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Females are active in daytime during the breeding period; afterwards adults are active at twilight, spending the day under logs, snags, stones, rodent burrows and holes. During rainy weather salamanders regularly leave their hiding places by day. The appearance of active salamanders on the land surface in day time indicates the approach of rain. Hibernation, typically in groups, occurs in the northern part of the range, whereas in the south (e.g., in Israel) activity ceases during hot summer period. Similarly, in central Europe reproduction occurs between spring and autumn, whereas at the south of the range it is confined to winter. Mating takes place on land, and male-male combats for a female often takes place. The species is typically viviparous, and the female releases the young into water, usually shallow brooks. The number of larvae per female, as well as their stage at birth time, varies among subspecies. Salamandra salamandra bernardezi and, sometimes, S. s. fastuosa give birth to completely metamorphosed young salamanders. Larval development takes several months, but in many cases they overwinter and finish their metamorphosis in the next year. Most larvae occur in fishless parts of brooks, which is caused by fish predation. As a rule, larvae start active feeding just after birth. Age changes in diet during ontogeny are minor and related mainly to the use of larger prey. Larvae consume primarily upon rheophilous invertebrates: Gammaridae, larval Ephemeroptera, Diptera, etc. In semi-flowing waters, typical limnophilous preys (e.g., Diaptomidae) are included in their diet. Adults do not consume the small preys that are eaten by juveniles: Acarina, Geophylomorpha, and Collembola. However, they eat large Mollusca, Myriapoda (Oniscomorpha, Polydesmida and Juliformia), Coleoptera, etc.
Trends and Threats
Relation to Humans
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
This is the first species from which Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) infections have been identified (Martel et al. 2013).
This species was featured as News of the Week on 24 June 2019:
Although Fire Salamanders are assumed to be an aposematic species, where bright colors are viewed by potential predators as warning of toxicity, the costs associated with the honesty of their signaling and predator learning behavior has not been quantified. Preißler et al. (2019) tested whether the alkaloid content matched yellow coloration in a highly variable Fire Salamander population in Solling, Germany, (Salamandra salamandra terrestris) to determine if the species had an honest signal of toxicity. They found that the amount of yellow patterning did not correlate with the amount of toxins in individuals, as would be expected for a true aposematic species. The authors also found that the population was sexually dichromatic, with males being more yellow than females. Although these findings could be explained by sexual selection, statistical analysis of color variation indicated that site specific female choice was not a factor. These findings indicate that other, yet to be verified, biological processes are playing a role in the yellow coloration of Fire Salamanders, and that the toxins are produced by conserved bioactivity (Written by Ann T. Chang).
Bannikov, A. G., Darevsky, I. S., Ishchenko, V. G., Rustamov, A. K. and Szczerbak, N. N. (1977). Opredelitel Zemnovodnykh i Presmykayushchikhsya Fauny SSSR. Prosveshchenie, Moscow.
Freytag, G.E. (1955). Feuersalamander und Alpensalamander (Die Neue Brehm Bücherei Bd. 142). A. Ziemsen, Wittenberg-Lutherstadt.
Gasc, J. P. , Cabela, A., Crnobrnja-Isailovic, J., Dolmen, D., Grossenbacher,K., Haffner, P., Lescure, J., Martens, H., Martinez Rica, J. P.,Maurin, H., Oliveira, M. E., Sofianidou, T. S., Vaith, M., and Zuiderwijk, A. (1997). Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Europe. Societas Europaea Herpetologica and Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris.
Greven, H. and Thiesmeier, B., eds. (1994). Biology of Salamandra and Mertensiella (Mertensiella Supplement 4). DGHT, Bonn.
Griffiths, R.A. (1996). Newts and Salamanders of Europe. T. and A. D. Poyser, London.
Klewen, R. (1988). Die Landsalamander Europas, Teil I, Die Gattungen Salamandra und Mertensiella. A.Ziemsen, Wittenberg Lutherstadt.
Kuzmin, S. L. (1995). Die Amphibien Russlands und angrenzender Gebiete. Westarp Wissenschaften, Magdeburg.
Kuzmin, S. L. (1999). The Amphibians of the Former Soviet Union. Pensoft, Sofia-Moscow.
Martel, A., Spitzen-van der Sluijs, A., Blooi, M., Bert, W., Ducatelle, R., Fisher, M.C., Woeltjes, A., Bosman, W., Chiers, K., Bossuyt, F., Pasmans, F. (2013). ''Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans sp. nov. causes lethal chytridiomycosis in amphibians.'' PNAS, 110(38), 15325-15329.
Nöllert, A. and Nöllert, C. (1992). Die Amphibien Europas. Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH and Company, Stuttgart.
Szczerbak, N. N. and Szczerban, M. I. (1980). Zemnovodnye i Presmykayushchiesya Ukrainskikh Karpat [Amphibians and Reptiles of Ukrainian Carpathians]. Naukova Dumka, Kiev.
Thiesmeier, B. (1992). Okologie des Feuersalamanders. Westarp Wissenschaften, Essen.
Written by Sergius L. Kuzmin (ipe51 AT yahoo.com), Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow
First submitted 1999-10-06
Edited by Meredith J. Mahoney, updated by Ann T. Chang, Michelle Koo (2019-06-24)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2019 Salamandra salamandra: Fire Salamander <http://amphibiaweb.org/species/4284> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 23, 2019.
Feedback or comments about this page.
Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2019. <http://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 23 Sep 2019.
AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.