Fire Salamander

(Salamandra salamandra)




Facts about this animal

Black with yellow or orange markings that occur in patterns varying from discrete spots to large splotches or bands (partiularly in the subspecies Salamandra s. terrestris). With a body length from 15 to 20 cm (even up to 35 cm) it is the largest species in the family. Nocturnal. They eat insekts, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, beetles, woodlice, worms, slugs. Mating takes place in February until May on land. The male deposits a spermatophore, which is taken up by the female. The female may retain the sperm for some time before ovulation and fertilization occur. This helps to account for the long gestation between the peak of mating season in the summer and the birth of the larvae in the following spring, after the winter hibernation. About 70 eggs develop in the body of the female. When the eggs are deposited in water, the larvae immediately hatch ("larviparous"). They live in water and breathe through external gills. After three months they metamorphose and leave the water.

Did you know?
Fire salamanders do not only hibernate (from October til March) but they reduce their activity also during the hottest season (July, August) in particular in the southern parts of their range.The black and yellow colour (aposematic coloration) is a warning to potential enemies: The main defense of S. salamandra against predators namely is its toxicity. The large paratoid glands behind the eyes and rows of poison glands extending lengthwise down the animal's body secrete neurotoxins. The Fire Salamander even is capable of actively spraying these chemicals at predators to discourage attack.Fire salamanders can reach an age of over 40 years.Fire salamanders typically will stay loyal to the same home range for many years. They will also continually revisit the same overwintering spots: one experiment found individuals returned to the same cave to hibernate for up to 20 years. These journeys require some mechanism for homing (landmarks).


Name (Scientific) Salamandra salamandra
Name (English) Fire Salamander
Name (French) Salamandre tâchetée
Name (German) Feuersalamander
Name (Spanish) Salamandra comun
Local names Croatian: Pjegavi dazdevnjak
Greek: Salamándra
Hungarian: Foltos szalamandra
Italian: salamandra gialla e nera
Polish: Salamandra plamista
Portuguese: Salamandra-comum
Romansh: Salamander giagl
Serbian: Pjegavi daždevnjak
Slovakian: Salamandra skvrnitá
Slovenian: Navadni mo erad
Turkish: Ates semenderi
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Western, central, and southern Europe from Portugal to Thrace and Greece, north to Belgium, northern Germany, southern Poland, southeastern Ukraine and eastern Bulgaria, parts of its range extending into northern Africa and the Middle East.
Habitat Salamanda salamandra prefers woodland habitats, especially those with much shade and nearby ponds or streams for breeding. It spends much time beneath rocks or logs, or hiding in crevices to stay protected and moist.
Wild population Due to it being poisonous there are practically no enemies. The biggest threat today is habitat degratadion (water pollutants), habitat fragmentation and habitat destruction.
Zoo population 136 speciemns belonging to four different subspecies reported to ISIS (200/)

In the Zoo

Fire Salamander


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 45 or 51 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Ioannidis Panos

Why do zoos keep this animal

Fire salamanders are kept primarily for educational purposes because they are well known to (European) people from fairy tales, but hardly ever seen by today's urbanized population.

Traditional folklore held that salamanders could survive in fire; the term "salamander" actually comes from an Arab term for "lives in fire." The Fire salamander in particular ows its name to these myths. The stories probably originated because salamanders, including S. salamandra, were frequently seen to crawl out of logs tossed onto cooking fires and campfires. Of course, their thin permeable skin offers no such protection.