Hellbenders A Great Part of the Salamander Family

Joshua/ May 25, 2016/ Articles/

Some people love their newts, sirens and salamanders: I must admit that I am not one of them. Your traditional witch’s spell recipe calls for ‘eye of newt’; so your witch is fairly familiar with one part of the amphibian family. These slimy creatures can breathe on land and in water; and some ­­­­­­salamanders grow to incredible sizes. The Chinese giant salamander can grow up to 1.8m long and weigh around 50kg; that is a lot of slimy creature to consider. They call them hellbenders because people used to only discover them inside burning logs during a fire.

Hellbenders A Great Part of the Salamander Family

Yes, the salamander is a shy creature, not one to draw too much attention to himself or herself. And sex and gender are often in a pretty pickle with these cucumber like slimies. Salamandroidea is an internally fertilising salamander, and it produces a shapely sperm package (spermatophe); the perfect anniversary or engagement present. This sperm package is then picked up by the female’s cloaca (do you know where your wife’s cloaca is located?). The male gets the female into the right position by way of his dorsally projecting spike at the base of his tail (sounds sort of familiar) and gets himself under her (girls on top stuff) and inserts his spike into her cloaca. She then absorbs the spermatophore’s sperm-filled cap (evolution has obviously tried a few reproductive ideas with a common theme, I reckon).

So, there is a vast array of salamanders, some with legs and some with not, some really big and some really small. Salamanders come in just about every colour under the rainbow and then some. Pink and penis like, spotted and ribbed like an exotic condom, lizard like with yellow G-stripes, dark newts, sirens like long thick eels with teeth, Asian giant salamanders like some pre-historic creature from our dim past, and slimy slug-like creatures with a penchant for not doing much. There are around 655 recognised living salamander species; so plenty of types of salamanders for all tastes and inclinations. The Australian Community Of Greens (ACM Group) is a community of Axolotl lovers, which is the only species of salamander allowed in Australia.

Some of their biological and behavioural features include: prehensile tails, beaks, tree-climbing, defensive spikes, intra-uterine cannibalism, tail shedding under duress, neoteny, nuptial dancing, cave-dwelling, exotic warning displays, bizarre digital development and purely aquatic salamanders. The complete fruit salad, you would have to say. Hellbenders a great part of the salamander family for sure. As long as you like slimy.



The Mating and Reproductive Strategies of Salamanders

Joshua/ May 23, 2016/ Articles/

The term “salamander” originates from the Greek word “salamandra” which means “fire animal.” This is because salamanders usually turn up in logs that were set on fire.  As amphibians, salamanders can breathe and live in water or on land. However, adult amphibians get to live on land and only come back in water when it is time to propagate and multiply.

Mating Background in Salamanders

The sex life of salamanders is quite amusing. Throughout the breeding season, both sexes of the salamanders search for potential mates. This happens during the first warm rains of spring to steer clear of extreme environmental conditions. There are species of salamanders, like the California newts, that pick out their possible partners by smelling them. For European crested newts, the male salamanders express their keenness and willingness to mate by changing their skin colours or patterns. In the case of terrestrial salamanders, they locate their breeding pond through their sense of smell and migrate there.

Male salamanders “woo” their possible mate by giving off pheromones directed to the female salamanders. The male specie will court the female by progressing towards her and waggling his tail. If the female specie wants to mate, she will participate in the dance wherein the “couple” will walk or swim around each other. Other species of male salamanders show off through elaborate displays in attracting the opposite sex. Male newts, such as Triturus spp., grow enlarged dorsal fins in alluring their mates.

Reproductive Modes of Salamanders

Around 90 percent of all species of salamanders reproduce via internal fertilisation. In here, the male salamander will deposit a spermatophore on the ground, rock or stick and leads the female into the area. Spermatophores are bundles of sperms, comprised of 80-100 sperms depending on the season. The female salamander will then pick up the spermatophore using her cloacal lips and proceed to a pond or ditch. There, she will lay eggs which she’ll brood to keep the eggs moisture-ladden. There are also types of female salamanders, like the European fire salamander, that retain the eggs inside her until the eggs make it to the larval stage.

Some salamanders undergo external fertilisation. It involves the female salamanders laying eggs in nests under a rock. The male salamander will then fertilise the eggs and watch over the nest until the young hatch in 2-3 months.