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Systematic classification and distribution
Species: S. salamander
The species is present in a large part of Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. 14 subspecies beyond the nominal subspecies are reported S. s. salamander. In Italy it is represented by Salamandra salamandra salamandra proper to the alpine regions and from Salamandra salamandra gigliolii, Italic endemism distributed in the Maritime Alps and throughout the Apennines, up to Calabria.
It rarely exceeds 20 centimeters. Easily recognizable because of its shiny black background color adorned with showy yellow spots, this magnificent caudate amphibian has a relatively small head from which protrude two large round eyes with round pupils with very dark, sometimes black iris. On the head it has two large raised paratoid glands. The stocky body is covered with small glands, which secrete an irritating alkaloid substance with an unpleasant taste that has the function of protecting the skin from bacterial infections, dehydration and predators; it also has 4 legs and a relatively short tail, the same color as the back.
The larval stage is characterized by a shape very similar to that of the adult, but more delicate and uniform brownish in color. On the sides of the body it has temporary branchial tufts and has, at the base of the limbs, a characteristic clear spot. Other information
It frequents fresh and humid wooded environments (in particular those of broad-leaved trees) crossed by small streams, often essential for reproduction. The structure and characteristics of the waterways in which the larvae are deposited also play a very important role in determining the distribution of the species. Shallow waterways, with a natural course, with a wealth of shelters and a well diversified substratum are more likely to host this urodel. Water quality is also important. Salmandra usually lays in streams that are not very polluted or not polluted with a wide availability of macroinvertebrates (crustaceans, insect larvae, etc.) with which the larvae feed. In some cases, salmandra also uses lavotoi, tanks and small ponds fed by sources that ensure an adequate level of oxygenation for deposition.
During the mating period the male performs a complex courtship ritual, at the end of which he leaves a spermatophore on the ground, containing the spermatozoa, which is collected by the female through the cloacal lips. In the following spring, the female lays, in well-oxygenated streams, 20-40 larvae with external feathery gills on the sides of the head.
Salamandra Pied (photo http://tapazovaldoten.altervista.org)
Fire salamander (photo Didier Descouens)