Fire Salamander still active in December

Tudor

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Dear all,
Between 8 and 12 of December, with some of my colleagues, I made a field trip in Jiului Gorge, Gorj County, Romania, searching for otter, lynx , bear and wolfs as part of a research in the Jiului Gorge National Park. Also, as herpetologist, my goal was to see if are some amphibians still active in the wild in this area.
We manage to find otters, bears and some wild cats, but no sign of wolfs or lynx.
Also, on a valey I find two big males fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra salamandra) still active, but clearly looking for a winter shelter.
The weather was worm (10 degrees Celsius) on 9 when I find the salamanders, but on 10 drop to -3.
Also, in a piece of concrete pipe I find 4 common frogs (Rana temporaria).
See the photos of the salamanders below.
Also, I put some photos of the habitat.
 

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Tudor

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Fire Salamander still active in December 2

Because of some technical problems, I was forced to post just 3 pictures in my first message (the male fire salamander no. 1).
 

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awesome. Have always wanted to visit Romania. That's S.s.salamandra, right? Do you have pix of the general landscape/ area?
 

Tudor

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Thanks for the appreciations :). Yes is Salamandra s. salamandra.
Yes, I do have pictures with the habitat. Also, with help from Azhael (thank you for this:happy: Azhael), I manage to attache pictures with the second male fire salamander.
 

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Azhael

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That is just my kind of place!!! Beech forest with the sound of running water......god, i can just smell the humidity and the decomposing leaves, and it´s the smell of happiness!!!
I need to go herping...i need it bad....

Thank you for sharing, Marian, threads like this keep those of us who are deprived of nature going xD


PS: I´ve said this before somewhere else, but it really does amaze me how surreally similar eastern europe´s forests are to the forests we have in the Cantabrian Mountains. Both fauna and flora are remarkably similar. It warms my heart to know that my favourite habitat is still lush and vast in some places.
 

sergé

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Salamandra activity all depends on humidity and temperature. And temperatures of 10 degrees Celsius you mention are still pretty okay for Salamandra. But also other amphibians still keep being active. of course they don't know it can drop the next day :)

It is a mistake to think that these animals have a winter rest for several months on, and especially in area's where temperatures stay mild. In some areas the winter period is the best period for finding this species!
 

Azhael

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True. Some species are active and breeding since autumn, and continue to do so during winter. They trully are creatures of the cold... In areas where freezing temps are rare but it still gets cold, they thrive year-round.
 

Tudor

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Is true Serge. Salamandra salamandra is active at this temperature. And not only S.salamandra, but also other amphibians. My intention was to share with you, caudata enthusiasts, some pictures and impressions from my last field trip and not to emphasize some wired situation regarding S. salamandra biology and ecology.
 

eljorgo

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Not Azhael! xDD You will not see a fire salamander in July at 40ºC (in Iberian peninsula at least) Not year round but yeah most time except summer.
 

Azhael

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Depends on the area...the cooler northern parts are mild enough so that most amphibians don´t need to aestivate at all.
 

eljorgo

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Are you sure? One thing is longitude other is altitude. I will be rather more convinced by the second. Cause if it was like that from north of Spain till most Nordic regions of Europe salamanders would be active 100% of the year, and that is not true. We know in France, Germany, Netherlands even Poland.. They get some heat in summer and are way more northern than north of Spain.
Altitude is indeed much more convincing. At altitude of 1500m+ Temps will be lower or equal to 15/18. 18ºC as maximum (very sunny and no clouds day during summer) its very satisfying to a caudate during peak of summer. So in that case yeah I would agree.
They are, like all caudates, creatures from the cold with no doubt.
 

Azhael

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Well, Jorge, the thing is, it´s all about microhabitats and humidity. S.salamandra for example can be active year-round but this is a confussing term. They will be active whenever conditions are right for them to be active, meaning mild temps (anywhere from 20 to 4ºC) and elevated humidity. Wether this happens in the middle of august or the middle of january, it doesn´t matter, if conditions are right, they´ll take the chance.
And that´s what i mean by active year-round.
In areas where humidity is too low for a long period, they will aestivate even if nocturnal temps drop to a comfortable range.
France and other countries are certainly northern, but they still get strong summers. If you compare the temp variation between the center of France and the northern parts of Spain, you´ll find that the coastal northern areas of Spain remain much milder year-round (simply because they are geographically protected)
 

MartinS

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great pictures! They give a good image of the surroundings and atmosphere. With suche pictures I will instantly go for salamanders spotting , it's just too cold here in the Netherlands and there is a lot of snow.

Thanks for sharing!
 
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