The spotted salamander, an amphibian all dressed in black and yellow


The spotted salamander is recognizable among a thousand with its black dress dotted with spots yellow. Armed with a venom, the amphibian does not fear its enemies and willingly ventures out on the paths when the weather is fine. rain. Presentation.

The terrestrial, common or spotted salamander

The salamander earthly or common (Salamandra salamandra) is also called a spotted salamander or fire salamander. This species of amphibian very widespread in Europe belongs to the order of Urodeles (like the newt) and to the family of Salamandridae. Measuring from 12 to 17 centimeters and weighing up to 50 grams, the spotted salamander is the most tall urodele present in our regions.

Bright yellow coat for the ground salamander

The spotted salamander is distinguished by its coat black shiny embellished with spots yellow with irregular contours. The variability patterns allow each individual to be singled out. Its gray belly has variations that tend towards brown. The broad head of the amphibian is endowed with large black eyes protruding and rounded muzzle. Rather short and massive legs are extended by non-webbed toes. The body stocky and elongated spotted salamander ends in a long tail. The parotoid glands that release toxic secretions are located on the sides of the head.

Wet soil for the spotted salamander

The species is found throughout Europe, except Northern Europe and the British Isles. Present everywhere in France, the spotted salamander frequents the forests of hardwood and the mixed forests of medium mountain impregnated with a certain humidity on the ground. The amphibian also lives in groves, in plain or in hilly regions. The species evolves near sources and streams but only its larva is an animal aquatic. During the day, the spotted salamander remains hidden in cavities out of direct sunlight, under stones, bark, dead wood, in decaying tree trunks or galleries small mammals.

The spotted salamander, nocturnal animal

The visual acuity of the spotted salamander is adapted to an activity mainly nocturnal and crepuscular but the terrestrial animal can also go out during the day in rainy weather. The amphibian moves slowly on the ground and, if necessary, can swim quickly on the surface of the water. At the first frost, the spotted salamander goes into a state of diapause (temporary cessation of activity or development) in an underground shelter. The animal can thus leave its refuge at any time in the event of conditions. favorable.

The terrestrial salamander, fond of invertebrates

The adult salamander consumes a wide variety of organisms invertebrates like woodlice, beetles with soft elytra, slugs, earthworms, spiders and various insects. Other amphibians, such as newts or frogs smaller than her, can supplement her diet. When there is enough light, his tactic of hunt relies mainly on the movement of the prey thanks to its front feet and lower jaw which serve as sensors of vibrations. In the dark, the animal trusts its smell to locate its target.

Long gestation period for the spotted salamander

The matings occur all year round except during thehibernation. The species is ovoviviparous, which means females directly give birth to larvae (while most amphibians lay eggs). At the end of a long gestation period of eight months, the female will deposit between ten and forty larvae in a small stream of oxygenated and fresh. Measuring 20 to 30 mm, the offspring have yellow spots at the base of the legs and gills which disappear when its aquatic life ends (3 to 4 months). After several moults, the salamander measures 55 to 65 mm when it finally reaches dry land. Sexual maturity is reached between 2 and 4 years.

The spotted salamander and its predators

The cannibalism is quite common in larvae while young and vulnerable individuals fall prey to rats, ducks or tawny owls. Among the few adult predators are the snakes (especially snake), hedgehogs or wild boars. The parotoid glands of the salamander (located at the back of the eyes) may secrete a substance toxic causing irritation of the oral mucous membranes and the epidermis. Armed with sound venom, the amphibian does not hesitate to go out in open ground, thus braving its enemies. On the other hand, the animal has the particularity of being able to regenerate parts of their body lost or injured during an assault.

The spotted salamander, a protected species

Annex III of the convention Bern protects the spotted salamander in most of Europe. In France, it is classified in the red list of endangered species due to the regression its numbers and the degradation of its habitats. The decline of wetlands, the contamination of its environment by pesticides and road traffic represent the main threats to the amphibian. The spotted salamander can live up to 20 years.