David Element

Wildlife Photography and Digital Video Images

___________________________________ Amphibians and Reptiles 36 – Fire Salamanders

 

 

 

 

                                                                        FIRE SALAMANDER Salamandra salamandra terrestris

 

 

                                                                        FIRE SALAMANDER Salamandra salamandra terrestris

 

 

                                                                        FIRE SALAMANDER Salamandra salamandra terrestris

 

 

                                                                        FIRE SALAMANDERS Salamandra salamandra terrestris

 

 

                                                                        FIRE SALAMANDERS Salamandra salamandra terrestris

 

 

                                                                        FIRE SALAMANDERS Salamandra salamandra terrestris

 

 

                                                                        FIRE SALAMANDERS Salamandra salamandra terrestris

 

·         The striking (and rather attractive) dark brownish-black and bright yellow colour scheme of the Fire Salamander Salamandra salamandra terrestris has a very specific purpose, namely the advertisement of its distastefulness to would-be predators. As they usually seem to emerge from cover in quite precise conditions after dark (usually high humidity following heavy rain) it is not known how effective it might be – although they certainly show up well in torchlight! They cannot move very fast and they are therefore particularly vulnerable to being run over on the roads.  These amphibians are essentially terrestrial in their habits for most of the year although they need to lay their eggs into water, often using small ditches for this purpose.  Pores in the paratoid glands situated behind the eyes and elsewhere on the body are used to exude toxins as an effective deterrent against being swallowed and these are most easily seen on the yellow-coloured areas. The final four photographs are of a pair of males indulging in a very leisurely and not obviously violent fight for mating rights. These Fire Salamanders were photographed very near to the North Normandy coast during September 2017 and at the time the animals appeared to be perfectly healthy. However, this location is relatively close to areas in Belgium and Holland where a dreadful fungal infection associated with the causative organism Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans has decimated amphibian populations – see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chytridiomycosis for further information. At this point in time the photographer does not know if this scourge has reached northern France. The consequences can be extremely severe and local extinctions may occur, possibly mitigated only by captive-breeding of these animals in isolation. Warm and humid conditions seem to favour the spread of this fungus (which has been associated with global warming) so perhaps the slightly cooler climate close to the coast could be protective. One can but hope!

 

·         A film of Fire Salamanders in ‘action’ may be seen at: https://youtu.be/gXtnED7EAos.

 

 

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