A salamander is a type of amphibian with moist skin that looks like a cross between a frog and a lizard. There are around 740 different species of salamander, all with different characteristics, and most species of salamander can be found in North America.
Salamanders are amazing creatures, associated with power and passion. However, because of habitat loss, populations have been decreasing. Many areas suitable for salamanders have unfortunately been destroyed by humans to make way for developed land. Salamanders are losing their homes and we must protect them. The first steps to preserving these threatened animals are to learn about them and you will see that they are pretty awesome. Read these salamander facts for kids to know more.
South America, North America, Central America, Asia, and Europe
Salamander Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a salamander?
They are part of the salamander group of animals. Under this group are also newts, mudpuppies, sirens, and Congo eels.
What class of animal does a salamander belong to?
Salamanders are amphibians. They often get mistaken for reptiles because of their lizard-like appearance.
How many salamanders are there in the world?
There is very little information about the population of salamanders, especially as there are so many types. They are also very shy animals that hide from humans and other species.
Where does a salamander live?
Salamanders are often found in wetlands, they live here because they need to keep their skin moist.
What is a salamander's habitat?
Salamanders can be found all over the world, but the United States contains the largest population of salamanders. The typical salamander habitat depends on what species of salamander they are. For example, newts mostly live on land, whereas sirens have gills and fins so spend most of their time in the water. Whatever species they are, salamanders must remain moist so it is important that they live near a water source. You can often find these amphibians living in or near ponds, creeks, humid forests, and brooks.
Who do salamanders live with?
Salamanders are solitary except for during their mating season. Salamanders are shy, especially the smaller ones, and prefer to stay hidden
How long does a salamander live?
Depending on the type of salamander, they can live up to 55 years of age. In fact, the Artis Zoo in Amsterdam was home to two 52-year-old Japanese giant salamanders, the oldest documented age for an amphibian and a salamander. There were also reports that scientists found a 200-year-old Chinese giant salamander outside a cave in 2015!
How do they reproduce?
Salamanders reproduce sexually and are the only amphibians who reproduce by internal fertilization. A salamander life cycle is typical to amphibians. Males attract females by releasing a scent. After courting, a male deposits sperm near the female and she picks it up in a vent. The female then produces fertilized eggs. They can lay up to 450 eggs. These Salamander eggs look like jelly and take three to four weeks to hatch.
What is their conservation status?
Each type of salamander has a different conservation status. Due to deadly fungus, the destruction of wetland habitats, and pollution, many salamander populations have decreased over recent years. 66 species are labeled as Critically Endangered. One of these critically endangered species (that is officially classified as Not Extinct) is the Chinese giant salamander, the biggest salamander in the world reaching lengths of 1.8m (6ft). This salamander is used for food and medicine.
105 Salamander species are labeled as Endangered, 93 are Vulnerable, 62 are Near Threatened, 162 are Least Concern, and the remaining 55 salamander species are Data Deficient, meaning that their conservation status is undefined.
Salamander Fun Facts
What do salamanders look like?
Salamanders look like a cross between a frog and lizard. They have moist and smooth skin just like frogs, slender and long bodies, and long tails like lizards. Each type of salamander looks a little different. They can be brightly colored or have neutral coloring. They can also be spotted, striped, have bars or dots. Some have gills, some have four legs whilst some have two legs, some have lungs, and some are giant whilst some are tiny.
How cute are they?
We think that salamanders from the order Caudata are extremely cute with their adorable frog-like eyes and little feet. They can also be very beautiful depending on their pattern, color and size.
How do they communicate?
Although they may look a little like frogs, they are definitely not as vocal as frogs are. Salamanders communicate through touch and chemicals. To deter predators, they release a bad-tasting substance. Some may even ward off predators with their colored and patterned skin, which is typical of very poisonous animals. When trying to find a mate, salamanders do something called pheromone signaling, which is when they release hormonal chemicals to attract a mate.
How big is a salamander?
With a huge variety of salamander species, they can come in lots of different sizes. However, the majority of salamanders are around 6 in (15 cm) in length. The largest species is the Japanese giant salamander which can grow up to 6 ft (1.8 m) from its head to the tip of the tail. That is taller than many humans! The smallest salamander is the pygmy salamander which can be as small as 0.6 in (1.7 cm). This salamander is smaller than a matchstick!
How fast can a salamander move?
Salamanders and newts normally move very slowly. However, if any danger does arise they can run away quickly.
How much does a salamander weigh?
Most salamanders weigh 3-8 oz (85-226 g). This is roughly the same weight as the hamsters you find at the pet shop! The heaviest salamander species are Japanese giant salamanders which can weigh up to 140 lb (63 kg). The pygmy salamander is so small it feels almost weightless!
What are their male and female names of the species?
Both males and females are simply called salamanders.
What would you call a baby salamander?
Baby salamanders are just like frogs when they just hatch and they look like tadpoles without any legs. Young salamanders still in the larval stage are called efts and as they get older they develop legs. When efts grow bigger and develop into the larval stage they are called nymphs. Larval salamanders have feathery gills protruding from their necks to help them absorb oxygen in the water. By the end of this stage, salamanders should have developed legs and small feet. Before they turn into adults they are called salamander larvae.
What do they eat?
Salamanders are carnivores which means they only eat meat. They often feast on small animals such as insects, worms, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They prefer small moving prey, as they are not fast enough to catch the speedier animals. Some larger salamander species eat fish, frogs, mice, and sometimes, even other salamanders.
Are they poisonous?
Many salamanders release poisonous fluid from glands in their necks and tails. This is to help protect them from predators. The skin of some salamander species contains the potent poison tetrodotoxin. However, even though salamanders can be poisonous, they are not harmful to humans and are highly unlikely ever to kill humans. Firstly, they are very shy and wary of humans, so the likelihood of getting poisoned by a salamander is extremely low. Secondly, the poison itself is not harmful to humans. However, it can cause irritation on the skin.
Would they make a good pet?
Both young and adult salamanders and newts can definitely make good pets. As a pet, they can live between six and 10 years if taken care of properly. You will have to consider their needs, remembering each salamander pet has different preferences, and ensure that their environment is optimal for them. They love to hide, swim and climb, so the habitat you create for them should allow them to do these things. Also, salamanders prefer to hide and are naturally quite shy, so they should not be handled. In fact, some salamanders may bite you if you pick them up. Do not forget that they are poisonous so they can irritate your skin!
Did you know...
The word 'salamander' originates from the Greek word for 'fire lizard'. This is because when logs were thrown into fires, sometimes salamanders would come running out of the logs.
Some salamanders' tongues are 10 times longer than their bodies.
Salamanders can produce mucus that covers their bodies.
They are the second biggest group of amphibians.
They are cold-blooded.
Salamanders are nocturnal.
Some can breathe through their skin.
Salamanders cannot hear.
An adult fire salamander has bright red-orange markings on its body and limbs that make it stand out.
Salamanders are in the order Caudata, a group of around 740 species. Some types of salamander include the cave salamander, red salamander, tiger salamander, marbled salamander, black salamander, newt, mudpuppy, olm salamander, hellbender salamander, Chinese giant salamander, Japanese giant salamander, spotted salamander, orange salamander, alpine salamander (Salamandra atra), fire salamander, and sirens. Phew, that's a lot of salamanders!
What is the difference between a newt and a salamander?
A newt is also in the salamander group. It is often said that every newt is a salamander, but not all salamanders are newts. Whilst they have a lot of similarities there are a few things that make them different. They are different in that newts are mostly aquatic animals, whereas salamanders are terrestrial, spending most of their time on land. Salamanders are also aquatic when breeding or laying eggs. Newts have webbed feet and a tail shaped like a paddle to make it easy to live in water. Salamanders have longer tails and toes for helping them grip the ground.
What are salamanders a sign of?
Salamanders are often associated with fire. This makes them often symbols of power, passion, and being able to withstand fire. Salamanders can also regrow their limbs and tails in case of injury, so they can also be signs of immortality and rebirth.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other amphibians including the tiger salamander, or the monitor lizard.
You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our spotted salamander coloring pages.
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