A salamander is an amphibian with a tail and is related to the newt. The name Salamander comes from the Greek word for Fire Lizard. Numerous legends have developed about the salamander over the centuries, many related to fire. This connection likely originates from the tendency of many salamanders to dwell inside rotting logs.
When placed into a fire, the salamander would attempt to escape from the log, lending to the belief that salamanders were created from flames — a belief that gave the creature its name. Associations of the salamander with fire appear in the writings of Aristotle, Pliny, the Talmud, Conrad Lycosthenes, Benvenuto Cellini, Ray Bradbury, David Weber, Paracelsus, and Leonardo da Vinci.
Can you hear the salamander? Salamanders are usually known as ‘silent amphibians’ because of their low propensity for sound-based signaling. Salamanders are nocturnal; they live in or near water or find shelter on moist ground and are typically found in brooks, creeks, ponds, streams, and other damp locations such as under rocks. Some species are aquatic throughout life, others take to the water periodically, and a few are entirely terrestrial as adults. They lay shell-less eggs in water.
Salamanders feed on small invertebrates, such as insects and worms, and often have brightly colored bodies. Salamanders can regenerate lost limbs within a few weeks, including tails and toes, allowing them to survive attacks from predators. Some salamander species can be poisonous, and some even have teeth. Some salamanders and frogs have tongues up to 10 times as long as their bodies. The Americas are home to more species of salamander than the entire rest of the world combined!
Salamanders encompass approximately 500 species of amphibians. They typically have slender bodies, short legs, and long tails. Usually found in moist or arid habitats in the northern hemisphere, most salamanders are quite small – under 15 m (6 in). However, three species of this creature reach up to 5 feet in length, and the South China giant salamander probably is the biggest of the three and may grow up to nearly 2 meters long.
Due to the deadly chytrid fungus, pollution, and the destruction of wetland habitats, many salamander populations have experienced a dramatic decrease in recent years, causing some species to be listed as endangered and a few to be considered threatened.
Content for this question contributed by Patty Young, resident of Concord, Contra Costa County, Florida, USA