Print Posted By Lost in France on 21 Sep 2005 in Wildlife - Wildlife and nature in France

The Fire Salamander

The Fire Salamander

Among the most colourful of the salamander family is the Fire Salamander, easily recognisable by its striking black and yellow markings the Fire salamander is widely distributed across France normally at altitudes of between 400 and 1000 metres.

These nocturnal creatures derived their name because they have a habit of hibernating in damp logs and when people threw a log on to the fire sometimes a Fire salamander would crawl out, this led people to believe that they lived in fire.

Fire Salamanders are often seen on forest paths after rain and although their preferred habit is undoubtedly forests and wooded areas you might be completely unaware of their existence in your garden but on a damp rainy night take a look outside with a torch especially in the early Autumn and spring, a favourite hibernating place is also in the water meter housing.

Fire salamanders have a rubbery skin through which they can exclude a toxic alkaloid called Samandarin which in high concentrations can cause high blood pressure and muscle convulsions so it's best to avoid handling them if you can and don't let your dog or cat try to eat them!

The Fire Salamander

Breeding usually takes place on dry land from any time between early summer and late September with the female giving birth to between 10 - 80 tadpole like larvae in clear clean water such as a natural spring or brook. The larvae unlike newt species are fully formed with legs but have gills and usually leave the water after about 3 - 4 months. It takes a further 5 years for the young salamanders to become fully grown and they can live up to 20 years. Deviations in colouring can occur sometimes with orange markings.

If you are lucky enough to have them in your garden they are a valuable asset eating a wide variety on insects and slugs. Unfortunately they are also widely sold in the pet trade and at one time this was affecting their numbers but fortunately there are now greater controls to protect them in place.

Latin Name: Salamandra salamandra
French Name: Salamandre de feu

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