Mandarin Salamander

(Tylototriton shanjing)


Mandarin Salamander IUCN NEAR THREATENED (NT)


Facts about this animal

A rather large sized newt, attaining a length of 15 – 20 cm. It has semi-rough body with a vivid dorsal coloration of a dazzling orange vertebral stripe culminating in a completely orange tail along with 12 - 14 orange rounded protuberances along the ribs on a black, dark brown or maroon background. It has also distinct yellow bony ridges on the sides of the top of the head (“Emperor Newt”) It is nocturnal and will usually hide during the day.. A few weeks after a dormancy period from December to March where the temperature should not rise above 12,5°C., the male attempts to wrestle a female into the water using his snout and hooked forearms (which he interlocks with the females forearms and drags her along). This may take hours or days depending on the female receptiveness but eventually a successful mating will occur. Fertilization is external, the male dropping up to three small cone-shaped spermatophores which he then nudges or drags the females cloaca across. Females then undergo a 7 - 21 day period of ova development (although sometimes even though a successful pairing is observed no eggs are subsequently laid). She then begins to search in the water for suitable egg-laying sites. 40 up to 100 eggs are adhered in small clumps of 10 - 15 eggs to the side of partially submerged rocks. The larvae hatch in 10 - 18 days. Mandarin salamander larvae are notoriously slow developers taking between 110 - 150 days to metamorphose

Did you know?
Although often markedly different in appearance, Tylototriton shanjing was formerly included in the species Tylototriton verrucosus, the Himalayan Newt. In 1995, Ronald A. Nussbaum, Edmund D. Brodie, Jr., and Yang Datong described T. shanjing as a separate species, based on morphological characteristics. Prior to Nussbaum, Brodie, and Yang, 1995, neither Anderson, who described T. verrucosus in 1871, nor his predecessors made any mention of markedly different color morphs, i.e. brightly colored as in T. shanjing, and uniform dark as in the T. verrucosus holotype. This oversight has been attributed to the type localities of the described specimens, which indicate that either only bright colored, or only dark colored specimens had been collected for study at any one time (Nussbaum, Brodie, Yang, 1995), making comparison impossible. Since Nussbaum, Brodie, and Yang, 1995, the bright colored morph has been described as a separate species based on morphological and geological characteristics, and given the name Tylototriton shanjing, which roughly translates to Mountain (shan) Demon/Spirit (jing) (Nussbaum, Brodie, Yang, 1995). More specifically, all T. verrucosus populations originally described from Yunnan province, China, with the exception of a a small range in extreme western Yunnan, are considered T. shanjing. The remaining range of T. verrucosus is large, encompassing several countries and producing many probable subspecies, and possibly one or more species. The orange warts on its back are poison glands, and when the newt is grabbed, the tips of the ribs will squeeze out poison from the glands. Emperor newts have enough toxin to kill approximately 7,500 mice.


Name (Scientific) Tylototriton shanjing
Name (English) Mandarin Salamander
Name (French) Salamandre mandarin
Name (German) Mandarin Salamander
Name (Spanish) Salamandra mandarina
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Thomas Ziegler



Range China, possibly present: Lao People's Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Viet Nam
Habitat It inhabits cool woodland and forest and secondary forests between 1000 and 2500 m altitude often in the vicinity of slow-moving water. pools, ponds and ditches, including some artificial waterbodies.
Wild population Very common in central, western and southern Yunnan, but is less common in the northern part of its range. The major threat to this species is over-collecting for Traditional Chinese Medicine. They are often seen in great numbers dried on food-markets. Another thread to these animals is over collecting by the pet trade. Its habitats are also being threatened by infrastructure development for human settlement.
Zoo population 243 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Mandarin 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
Thomas Ziegler

Why do zoos keep this animal

This species is rated Near Threatened and there is an interest in zoos of the German-speaking area for building up a conservation breeidng programme involving zoos and the private sector.