Typically characterized by their lizard-like appearance, blunt snouts and slender bodies, there are about 655 extant species of salamanders, while many other have already gone extinct. Their short limbs project at right angles (90o angles) to their body and are used for quick movement on ground. Concerning their distribution, the entire population of salamanders is restricted to the northern hemisphere of the globe. Almost all the surviving species have never been found to have over 4 toes on the front legs and over 5 toes on the rear legs. In other cases, some species have fewer digits on their limbs, while the others do not possess hind limbs altogether. Owing to the permeable nature of the skin, they can easily survive in watery habitats as well as damp places. It has also been found out that some of these amphibians spend entire life in water, and some others are restricted to terrestrial environment. Nevertheless, you can still find some that inhabit water in their larval stage, and their adult stage is spent solely on ground. In the phylum chordata, they have the unique characteristic of regenerating their lost limbs and other body parts if these have been damaged.
As you look on the salamander pictures, over the internet, you will come to know that some look quite attractive, while the others have got ugly appearance. The amphibians, belonging to the family Salamanderidae, are commonly termed as 'newts' and their distinguishing feature is the absence of costal grooves along the body sides. The newts have got warty or velvety skin that is wet to the touch, and the members of other families have moist and smooth skin that lacks scales. Some have drab skins, whereas others possess brightly colored skins that also exhibit various patterns of stripes, dots, blotches, spots and bars.
Funny Salamander Facts
- The word 'salamander' literally means "fire lizard".
- There has been a well-known myth about salamanders that they can live in fire without receiving any harm. It was also thought they could even extinguish fire owing to the natural coldness of their body.
- The term "newt" is usually used for those salamanders that spend most part of the each year on land.
- Being amphibians, they are the close relatives of toads & frogs, and have both terrestrial as well as aquatic adaptations.
- In contrast to toads and frogs, newts and salamander retain their tails even after they have reached the age of adulthood.
- Regarding their lifestyle, salamander species can be divided into three major categories: some are completely aquatic; some are wholly terrestrial; others spend some part of their life in water and the remainder on land.
- Salamanders show a great degree of variation in their body size, usually, ranging from 1 inch to 6 feet.
- Minute salamander is the smallest species with the body size measuring merely 1.1 inch.
- The largest of all salamander species is the Chinese giant salamander which may reach the length of over 6 feet with the weight of 140 pounds.
- Salamanders lack claws and, like amphibians, they have four limbs with usually four toes on each of the front legs and five toes on each of the hind legs.
- The skin of salamanders is considered to be very sensitive to the environmental pollution, as the toxins can easily pass through it and harm the internal organs, thus causing their death.
- Scientists make use of the sensitivity of the salamander's skin to determine the level of environmental pollution in a given area. It means the larger the population of these organisms, inhabiting a particular territory, the nicer and cleaner will be the intimate surroundings, and vice versa.
- So far as their appearance is concerned, it all depends on the total amount of the pigments in the skin, which varies from species to species. As a consequence, some species are brightly colored while the others are not.
- Those with light colored skin are the underground dwellers and keep hidden in the dark caves for the most of the time.
- Surprisingly, the body coloration (especially bright colors) is an indicative of the fact that they can be poisonous.
- What makes them inedible for the predators is the presence of mucus that contains certain severely bitter substances.
- Another effective strategy, used by the salamanders against their predators, is that of "autotomy", which means that they have the ability to reject their limb or tail in order to save their life.
- These animals have got incredible power of regeneration as the cut off limb or tail can be fully developed into a mature organ during the course of merely two weeks!
- Among the sub groupings, there include the 'spotted salamanders', which are identified by the presence of the uneven rows of yellow spots.
- For breathing, there are three possible options, which include lungs, gills and skin. Salamanders can make use of any one of these depending upon the particular requirements of their lifestyle.
- In the aquatic forms, there is a bushy mass of gills behind the head, which is used for extracting oxygen from water.
- In case of breathing through skin, there is a dense network of capillaries present on their body surface that assists in the exchange of respiratory gases.
- Regarding their diet, they feed on worms and insects.
- It is one of the most interesting salamander facts that in some of their species, the size of the tongue reaches as long as ten times of their body!
- Quite interestingly, it has been observed that the male salamanders perform the ritual of dancing in water before mating.
- When a male intends to mate, he moves the head & tail and sends chemical signals, i.e. pheromones, so that the female may get ready for mating.
- If the ritual of dancing, performed by the male salamander, appeals to the female, she will join him in dancing, followed by the practice of mating.
- Based on the nature of the species, a female salamander may lay up to over 200 eggs in the single mating season.
- Salamanders have got a very long lifespan as, for example, Chinese giant salamander can live for as long as 55 to 75 years!
- Owing to the loss of natural habitat, the Chinese giant salamander has been listed as "critically endangered" by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).
What do Salamanders Eat?
Either you are going to keep them as pet animals or not, it will be very useful for you to know 'what do salamanders eat'. Here follows the answer. Being carnivorous amphibians, they rely on insects and other such creatures for their diet. Salamanders living on terrestrial environment have got sticky tongues like those of their relatives, i.e. frogs. They catch the prey by shooting out their tongues from a certain distance. The variety of prey that these land dwelling species consume includes slugs, worms, spiders, dragonflies, centipedes, frog eggs, insect eggs and other small invertebrates. The aquatic species, on the other hand, prey on frogs, mosquito eggs, leeches, tadpoles, small fish, and so on. In case, you are going to feed terrestrial pet salamanders, it is quite easy as all the items of their diet are easily available on the pet stores, such as bugs and worms, etc. But for aquatic pet species, you need small fish, earthworm, brine shrimp, and the like.