Fire Salamanders are the only recent caudate that deposit larvae. Fire Salamanders are ovoviviparous or larviparous, some subspecies (S .s. bernardezi and S. s. fastuosa) are viviparous. The “birth” of larvae is named “larviparity”. Larvae are found between March and September. Mating and fertilization of ova are decoupled in the Fire Salamander. Females store the sperm in a spermatheca until they complete the vitellogenic cycle and the eggs are ready to be fertilized. Fertilization then occurs after ovulation. Ovulation occurs during the first week of July. The eggs grow for five months in the uterus, they feed on their own yolk-resources (lecitotrophy). In Central Europe, the main spawning season is in April and May. During the disposal of the larvae, which mainly happens during the night, the female submerges into the water and presses the larvae out of the cloaca. The larvae have fully developed gills, limbs, eyes and ventral and dorsal tail-fins and are between 25 and 35 mm large. The metamorphosis is completed after approximately four months. The gills have decreased completely and the lungs are now fully functional. The black-yellow-coloration is already clearly visible. On average, the total length of metamorphosed animals is about 51 mm. After metamorphosis, juveniles need 2-3 years to become adult salamanders and to develop their poisonous glands.

A juvenile, freshly metamorphosed Fire Salamander.

Spawning waters:
Typical spawning waters of Fire Salamanders have relatively low temperatures throughout the year, between 8 and 11°C. The spawning waters are waters with high oxygen content, like brooks, streams, fonts or other waters with spring water. Outside of the low mountain range, Fire Salamanders also use small, shallow standing water bodies to deposit the larvae. It is important that these water bodies contain water the whole year so that the larvae can finish their metamorphosis. Some larvae even hibernate under water until the next spring.

Fire salamander larvae shortly before metamophosis with already eye-catching black-yellow coloration and very, very small gills.

Böhme, W., B. Thiesmeier & K. Grossenbacher (eds.) 2003. Salamandra Salamandra (Linnaeus, 1758) – Feuersalamander. Handbuch der Reptilien und Amphibien Europas, Bd.4/2B : Schwanzlurche (Urodela) IIB; Salamandridae III: Triturus 2, Salamandra: BD 4/IIB: 969-1028. Wiebelsheim.

Buckley, D. & M. Alcobendas & M Garcia-Paris & M. H. Wake 2007. Heterochrony, cannibalism, and the evolution of viviparity in Salamandra salamandra. In: Evolution and Development: 9:1, 105-115.

Dopazo, H. & M. Korenblum 2000. Viviparity in Salamandra salamandra (Amphibia: Salamandridae): adaptation or exaptation? In: Herpetologica: 56, 144-152.

Steinfartz S. & K. Stemshorn & D. Kuesters & D. Tautz 2005. Patterns of multiple paternity within and between annual reproduction cycles of the fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) under natural conditions. In: Journal of Zoology: 268, 1-8.

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