Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Salamandra salamandra bernardezi: An endemic fire salamander of North Spain.

Deze post in het Nederlands: klik hier.

A fire salamander rescued from a dangerous crossing.

At our last visit to my brother who lives in Asturias, he had a pleasant surprise in store for me. On his shady and cool back patio there was a large covered plastic vegetable crate, filled with 4 inches of damp earth and leaves. After removing the cover I could see an old tile and under the tile ....

A day earlier on the way home from a pleasant bike ride my brother suddenly saw a fire salamander who just started an attempt to cross a road with lots of traffic (or as my brother put it: a salamander that had just started a highly efficient suicide attempt). Normally he takes life weary amphibians with him to release them in a safer environment away from roads and other calamities. But my brother remembered that I always have been a lover of amphibians and that´s why he decided this time to wait a day before releasing it again.

........So under the tile there was a beautiful fire salamander. According to my brother, it was a lot thicker than when he found it and this was very likely due to the diet of earthworms and slugs which he had served it the night before.
Using the opportunity some quick snapshots were taken and soon the salamander was back inside its temporary shelter. The same evening it was released in a humid slope forest more than a kilometer away from the nearest road.
Incidentally my brother found a week later and almost at the same place another fire salamander which not had managed to cross the road.

This salamander belongs to the subspecies Salamandra salamandra bernardezi, endemic to the northwest of Spain, and thus also to the Cantabrian Mountains.
Deze post in het Nederlands: klik hier


Typically, fire salamanders have a black base color with yellow spots or stripes. The subspecies bernadezi is very variable and yellow specimens with black stripes are common. Initially it was not very active, which is not surprising because after all it is a nocturnal animal.


Besides black stripes, our salamander has black spots on the legs. By the way, fire salamanders are not very good swimmers and it is possible for them to drown.

The fire salamander has poison glands on certain parts of its body. Although in my youth I have picked up literally hundreds of salamanders and toads, I never suffered any consequences of the poison. But of course that can vary from person to person.


The kidney-shaped poison glands on the head, seen as swelling just behind the eyes, are indicated by red ovals. These glands are always strikingly colored and the pores are clearly visible.


The fire salamander has also much poison glands on his back, located in rows (between the red lines). The swellings and pores are good visible.


A bright body coloration that is used as a warning signal to discourage potential predators is called aposomatism.  


The fire salamander prefers moist deciduous forests with clear streams. Although some years ago and in the middle of a pine forest, I had to remove 55 fire salamanders (I counted them) from a nearly 2 kilometers long forest trail, this to avoid driving over them. In the picture our little friend began to move at quiet a pace.


Eventually he decided once again to go on a pose.


You could almost say that it looks very sweet, although in reality it is an avid hunter that feeds slugs, earthworms, spiders, woodlice, caterpillars, etc.

In this photo the rows of venom glands and bright colours of the animal are very clear.


  1. Mooie foto's van deze vuursalamander.
    Ik heb dit nog nooit gezien, prachtig beest met super mooie kleuren.

    Ik hoop dat jij ook terug gaat reageren Marius, want ik heb nog geen reacties van jou gezien bij mij.
    Het is actie en reactie, van één kant werkt het niet.
    Ik hoop niet dat je boos bent, maar wilde het toch zeggen.
    groetjes Irma

  2. Hallo Irma, de vuursalamander komt in Nederland vnl. in Zuid-Limburg voor.

    Nee hoor, natuurlijk ben ik niet boos. Ik laat af en toe wel eens een opmerking achter, maar blijkbaar net niet bij jou, sorry. Ik hou het dan ook niet systematisch bij, maar af en toe ga ik eens de posts van andere blogs bekijken om eens te genieten. Maar nu ik weet dat je het op prijs stelt zal ik er zeker aan denken.

    Groetjes, Marius.