Alpine salamander

(Salamandra atra)


Alpine salamander IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

Up to 15 cm body length. Deep black colour (the subspecies Salamanda atra aurorae has a dirty yellow back). Mainly nocturnal, however after a cool rain they can also be seen at daytime. In general their activity is dependent upon temperature and humidity (preferably about 85 %). They eat small invertebrates, like insects, spiders, various larvae, woodlice, slugs and earthworms. Mating takes place in late spring and early summer on dry land. After two (up to four) years the females give birth to one or two fully developed young (ovoviviparous). These are app. 4 cm long, breathe with lungs and are capable to live on land. This way of reproduction is to be considered as an adaptation to life in high altitudes.

Did you know?
Alpine salamanders hibernate during the winter months.As defense mechanism they release a poisenous skin scretion and they can also "play dead" (=threatening position) by raising their head and sharply bending it backwards.After mating the females can store the spermatophore up to two years in a special "semen-pouch" within their body.


Name (Scientific) Salamandra atra
Name (English) Alpine salamander
Name (French) Salamandre noir
Name (German) Alpensalamander
Name (Spanish) Salamandra alpina
Local names Croatian: Crni dazdevnjak
Italian: Salamandra nera
Romansh: Salamander nair
Serbian: Crni dazdevnjak
Slovenian: Planinski mocerad
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Thomas Huntke



Range Alps of southern Bavaria (Germany), Austria, France, Italy, and Switzerland; and high mountains of the western part of the Balkan Peninsula, Slovenia and north-west Croatia, Southern Bosnia and northern Albania in an altitude of 800 to 2000 m (up to 2800 m). The subspecies Salamandra a. aurorae exists ony in the Italian province of Vicenza in an altitude of 1300 - 1500 meters
Habitat Mainly in humid deciduous forests near mountain creeks. Above the timberline in humid alpine pastures dwarf-shrub heathland and rock fans.
Wild population Due to their specific habitat requirements Alpine salamanders are regionally considered as "rare" and as such protected in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Within their habitat however they often are quite common.
Zoo population None reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Alpine 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
Zsolt Barna

Why do zoos keep this animal

Within the species' range, zoos and aquariums would keep Salamandra atra primarily for educational reasons to familarise the public with a rarely seen native species. Gowever, the species is hardly ever kept, institutions giving preference to the more attractive fire salamander, which is also easier to maintain in human care.