A slender bodied salamander with a relatively long, laterally-flattened tail. The background is usually black, but can also be dark brown. The animals possess yellow spots, which do not follow a pattern. They usually also have red spots on the head. Adults of both sexes attain a snout-vent length of about 200 mm, sometimes longer. The females are usually larger than males. The male's cloaca is much more swollen than the females cloaca.
Although described as a full species, the Algerian salamander was later considered to be a subspecies of the common European salamander, Salamandra salamandra. Veith (1994) raised this salamander to the full species based on an eletrophoretic study. This was later further supported by a DNA study by Veith et al. (1998)
A possible subspecies is described in Morocco, west from Ceuta. These animals are smaller, have a shorter tail, possess no red coloration, and have a dark-brownish color with granite yellow spots. They also can give birth to completely metamorphosed young salamanders (Donaire Barroso and Bogaerts 2001)
Distribution and Habitat
This species may be extinct in Tunisia. In the countries where it occurs, it only lives in the north. If the species is found at the southernmost boundaries of its distribution, it usually lives at higher altitudes. This species occurs from near sea level to 2010 m, and is generally restricted to oak or pine forests, but there have been reports of this species living in unforested areas. Type locality is Mount Edough near Annaba, Algeria from an elevation of approximately 1,000 m.
This species is found in Northern Morocco, northern Algeria, and northern Tunisia. It occurs to 2010 m in Morocco, 1550 m in Algeria, and 1500 m in Tunisia (Salvador, 1996).
Narrow, somewhat depressed head with rounded snout and conspicuous paratoids. Gular fold present. Subcylindric tail, somewhat laterally compressed. Smooth dorsum with parasagittal and lateral row of pores on each side. Cloacal opening similar in both sexes, lips somewhat larger in males. Background color blackish with yellow spots variable in form and arrangement (Text from Salvador, 1996, © Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service).
The North African populations are characterized by their relatively small size, and a long and narrow tail, and a short, narrow, flattened head with short, narrow paratoids. Pattern varies from two rows of rather long marks on the dorsum to a single row of circular marks or to scattered, isolated spots.The venter is black, sometimes with yellow spots (Text from Salvador, 1996, © Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service).
It is up to 226 mm in total length (Salvador, 1996).
This species is black with yellow spots with smooth skin. It has kidney-shaped paratoids on the upper part of the head (Salvador, 1996).
Habitat and Ecology
Habitat and Ecology
In Algeria it lives in Cedrus and Quercus woods. During the day it is found under stones and among roots. It lives near streams. It has been observed in caves. Groups of 15 to 20 active salamanders have been seen in November in Algeria (Text from Salvador, 1996, © Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service).
Life History and Behavior
Birth of 16 larvae were reported in May in Algeria. A female caught in December in Morocco had 15 larvae of 27 mm in total length. Towards the end of February larvae in the water in the Rif mountains, and recently metamorphosed individuals under stones were observed (Text from Salvador, 1996, © Smithsonian Herpetological Information Service).
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Salamandra algira lives in oak or mixed forests, sometimes in caves. They spend the day under logs, snags, stones, or even in rodent burrows and holes. The activity of this species stops during the summer period. When the rain starts to fall in November the animals become active again. The breeding season occurs in the winter months. The animals mate on land, and can give birth to completely metamorphosed young salamanders, but usually give birth to larvae.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Relation to Humans
The Arabic common name for this species, Arous Chta, means "bride of the rain."
North African fire salamander
The North African fire salamander (Salamandra algira) is a species of salamander in the Salamandridae family found in Algeria, Morocco, Spain, and possibly Tunisia. Its natural habitats are temperate forests, rivers, and caves. It is threatened by habitat loss.
- S. a. algira Mt. Edough (Algeria)-Neotype
- S. a. tingitana Jabal Mousa (Morocco)
- S. a. spelaea Ouartass (Morocco)
- Donaire-Barroso, D., Martinez-Solano, I., Salvador, A., Garcia-Paris, M., Gil, E.R., Tahar, S. & El Mouden, E.H. 2004.
|This Salamandridae article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|
To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!