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Black Salamander

by

Black salamander is one of the rarest species among the salamander family. It is almost extinct by now, and thus has become a rare sight. With very few adaptive and defensive features this is the humble most species amongst the amphibians.

Description

Head : Black salamander has triangular shaped head like all other species of its family.

Body : This salamander is slim and slick bodied. Their toe tips are round shaped.

Length : An average grown up black salamander is about 9.8 cm to 16.7 cm long.

Color : As the name suggests this species of salamander is black in color. Black salamanders have spots on its body. Their underneath parts are blackish grey in color. Limbs of young black salamanders are pale yellow.

Behavior

Black salamanders have many similar behavioral traits of other common salamanders.

Black Salamander Picture
Picture 1 - Black Salamander
Source - bio.research.ucsc.edu

  • Black salamanders are terrestrial creatures.
  • They prefer isolation.
  • They come in contact with others of its species only during the mating season.
  • Like other salamanders black salamanders are also carnivorous.
  • Young black salamanders stay immobile when they get startled by some threat.
  • Black salamanders are agonistic in nature.

Diet

Black salamanders are carnivorous in their diet habit. They feed on waxworms, earthworms, leeches, other small amphibians, new born mice, some aquatic bugs, etc.

Distribution

Black salamanders have been traced in northern California, southern Oregon, Santa Cruz Mountains, northern San Francisco Peninsula, southern Sonoma County, eastern Trinity Mountains, and Mountain Shasta.

Habitat

Black salamanders mostly inhabit coastal prairies and deciduous forests. Southern species prefer inhabiting in seepages, moist woodlands, and stream banks. Northern species choose to inhabit mossy rockslides, and grassy areas.

Predator

Most of the carnivorous an omnivorous species of animals which are bigger in size than the black salamanders, are their predators. For example, garter snakes are one of their most common predators.

Adaptation

Black salamanders do not have many adaptive or defensive abilities. They tend to utilize the following ones when needed.

  • They flee when threatened by some other species of the animal kingdom.
  • The young ones stay unmoved to pretend they are dead.
  • The black salamanders are able to secrete a sticky and poisonous fluid that can harm the predators.

Reproduction

During mating season the male black salamanders wander about in ponds and other water bodies in search of prospective mates. When prospective females come near them, the males dance and wave their tails. Then the males, with their hind-limbs, grab the females around their bodies and again let them go. Then they start moving before the females again. After this act, the males drop their germ cells somewhere at the bottom of the water body. The females go to the place where the germ cells have been dropped and take them inside their bodies to let their eggs mature.

Picture of Black Salamander
Picture 2 - Black Salamander Picture
Source - californiaherps.com

Female black salamanders lay about 100 eggs each season. But they lay only a few eggs at a time. The eggs are jelly-like substances, and are laid at the bottom of the water bodies, and they stick to some aquatic plants. The parent black salamanders leave the ponds once the eggs are laid. The eggs take about 30 days to hatch.

Life Cycle

Black salamander hatchlings are left unprotected since their egg stages. They come out of their eggs with good vision, active mouths, and very strong tails like adults. Their gills on both sides of their heads enable their breathing ability under water.

Limbs of the young black salamanders grow after 20 days from hatching. Gradually as the young ones grow in size they acquire crawling and swimming ability.

The young black salamanders start metamorphosing after 60 days from hatching. Their gills and tail fins disappear during this time. Even their colors change from original ones to the adult-like colors, which is black with some spots on them. It takes almost 2 years to metamorphose completely into their adulthood.

On the first spring season after reaching adulthood, the black salamanders start searching for their prospective mates in water bodies.

Life Span

Black salamanders have been observed to live for about 15 years in captivity. Their life span in the wild is not clearly known, but is assumed to be around 12 years.

Sub-species

There are two sub-species of black salamanders :

  • Speckled: This sub-species of black salamanders have pale yellow or white spots on them. They are scientifically known as A. f. flavipunctatus.
  • Santa Cruz: This sub-species are globally black in color or sometimes with small white dots on them. They are scientifically known as A. f. niger.

As Pets

Black salamanders can be very good pets. Taking their care is also very easy. Take little care of them and they can be the best pals around to play with.

  • Housing : (i) It is advisable to house the black salamanders in opaque shoe or sweater boxes.  They are solitary natured and need places to hide sometimes inside the pet-house. Make some holes on the lid of the box-house.
    (ii) If a transparent tank is used to house them then some places need to be provided inside for the black salamanders to hide.
    (iii) Provide some barks or plastic rods inside for them to climb and play around.
    (iv) Keep a clump of damp soil as substrate. Never let it get dried up too much. Keep checking and wet the soil frequently in order to keep it damp all the time.
  • Water : Use plain tap water, spring water, or distilled water for the pet black salamanders. Keep the water in an uncovered bowl for a day and then keep it in a shallow dish placing it inside. Some black salamanders prefer soaking in the water and clean themselves.
  • Diet : Feed the black salamanders every alternate day. They can be fed on waxworms, earthworms, tiny new-born mice, etc. Sometimes their foods could be dusted with some calcium and vitamin supplement powder.
  • Temperature : Black salamanders suit themselves the best in temperature that ranges between 55 degrees and 65 degrees F. They can stand up till 80 degrees F of temperature.
  • Handling : Salt content in human body is harmful to them. Thus it is advisable to wash hands in chlorine free water before touching them.

Conservation Status: Near Threatened

Black salamander species appears on the Near Threatened list of IUCN. The species is mainly facing habitat loss due to clearance of woodlands and over pouring trash in ponds and other small water bodies. This is threatening their existence on earth.

Interesting Facts

Black salamanders are a very interesting species to learn about. Find out some of the most interesting points about the species below.

  • Black salamander is one of the rarest species of salamander family.
  • Existence of this species is almost threatened now.
  • The black salamanders are solitary creatures.
  • The male black salamanders dance in front of the female ones as a sign of sexual advancement.
  • Salt content in human bodies is harmful for black salamanders.
  • Chlorine water is toxic to this species of salamanders.
  • New born black salamanders are endowed with proper vision, active mouth, and strong tail since birth.
  • The young ones of this species have gills and tail fins to survive under water, which disappear when they reach adulthood.
  • Parent black salamanders leave the water bodies after laying the eggs. The eggs mature and hatch unattended.
  • As a defense mechanism the adult black salamanders run away from their predators, whereas the young ones lay still.

Pictures

Check out some amazing pictures of the slim and sleek black salamanders below.

Image of Black Salamander
Picture 3 - Black Salamander Image
Source - ih1.redbubble.net

Photos of Black Salamander
Picture 4 – Black Salamander Photo
Source - traveljournals.net

Reference:

http://www.enature.com/fieldguides/detail.asp?recNum=AR0513

http://www.naturenorth.com/1np/Species/amphibian/Lifcyc/1lfcybs6.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Salamander

http://amphibiaweb.org/cgi/amphib_query?where-genus=Aneides&where-species=flavipunctatus&account=amphibiaweb

http://amphibiaweb.org/cgi/amphib_query?where-genus=Aneides&where-species=flavipunctatus

 

4 thoughts on “Black Salamander

  1. Eric January 28, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    I found this info very useful i was at work outside in our smoking area on a very rainy night in Shepherdsville Kentucky when i looked down and saw a 8-10 inch spotted salamander i was worried that it was going to be stepped on by my co-workers so i decided to give the little guy a more clean and sanitary habitat. My daughter is 10 and will absolutley love the thing… its cool to know that they can live so long if taken care of the right way

    • Mariposa September 29, 2012 at 3:41 am #

      Being endangered, they should NOT be kept as a pet, which deprives it from breeding and carrying on the species…

      Simply move them to the woodline if they are near areas of people where they can be harmed…

  2. Deanna Page October 20, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Last evening, after a day of harsh rain, I went down into our basement and there I found this little black with white spots salamander. My grandson who is six is obsessed with little creatures and he was delighted. We read about how to care for it and set up a box with grass, damp dirt, a shallow water source and then dug up a worm for his dinner. Thank you for the insight on how to care for his new pet.

  3. Rod Harding April 16, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    I was given a Black Salamander as a gift. I see plenty of images of the Black Salamander but none seem to have a red under belly like mine does. It was near death when it was given to me and found that it would eat Beta fish food. It lives in an aquarium with a fire belly toad and the two hang out like buddies. Now the Salamander is fat and likes to come to the aquarium glass when he sees me.
    Question: Is the red belly an indication that it is some sort of sub-species? I haven’t seen any images of other salamanders of this type with a red belly.

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