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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.
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.
Black salamanders have many similar behavioral traits of other common salamanders.
- 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.
Black salamanders are carnivorous in their diet habit. They feed on waxworms, earthworms, leeches, other small amphibians, new born mice, some aquatic bugs, etc.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Check out some amazing pictures of the slim and sleek black salamanders below.