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Reptiles And Amphibians

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Fire salamander

Salamandra salamandra

Unlike lizards, salamanders are covered in smooth, watery skin, without scales. They measure up to 28 centimetres long, the tail representing less than half the overall length. The typical colouring is lustrous black with bright yellow stretched spots.

The salamander's habitat includes Western and Central Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. In Ukraine, it is common in the Carpathians and the Subcarpathian region.

The fire salamander lives in damp forest biotopes. It hunts worms, snails, woodlice and centipedes at twilight and during the night (especially after rain). To breed, the male deposits a packet of sperm (spermatophore) on the ground, and the female draws it in with her cloaca. Gestation and the development of the larvae last for one or two seasons. In spring, the female finds a water body and releases 25 to 40 larvae that have gills and breathe underwater for the first three months. Sexual maturity is reached at three or four years of age, and the salamander lives for up to 25 years. The fire salamander's skin has special pores that secrete a sticky toxic liquid that can kill a small mammal. Human beings suffer vomiting after contact with the poison. The fire salamander is included in the Red Book of Ukraine.

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