"Russian" Fire Salamanders

manderkeeper

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Here in the US I am seeing a lot of ads for field collected "Russian" Fire salamanders. I do not have a good text on fire salamanders, does anyone know what subspecies these would be? I purchased a small group of them.
 

jAfFa CaKe

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As far as I'm aware no types of Salamandra have been found in Russia before. Some pictures might be helpful.
 

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I could not find what subspecies they are. I found a old thread about them, but as far as I saw they just called them Salamandra salamandra. I did not read the whole thread though, so I might have missed something. Here's the thread http://www.caudata.org/forum/f1173-...nders-salamandra/41570-salamandra-russia.html

Also, in the future I would avoid buying "field collected" animals, they are wild caught. -Seth

EDIT:
Here is a bit of additional information. This is what I was going on. If I am understanding correctly, the Salamandra he was referring to were actually from Ukraine, but the information was from the "The Amphibians of the Former Soviet Union". I am getting confused...
Hi Flavius,
Here are some extracts from The Amphibians of the Former Soviet Union...S.L.Kuzmin (1999)
"In the USSR Salamandra salamandra is certainly known only from the mountains and foothills of the Ukrainian Carpathians,between 150-1600m above sea level.The variability of Ukraine salamandra populations is poorly known.
They prefer micro-habitats covered with dense leaf litter and moss,as in the pristine forests of the Carpathians.Temperature under the substrate may be only +12-+15C,when temperatures on the surface are +25C.
Larvae found in small,stone covered streams,with summer water temps.of +10-+18C,with a pH ca.7.2.
Adults tolerant of low temperatures, retaining ability to move even near 0 degrees C.Upper lethal temps +30C or more.Adults active at +9-+26C,relative humidity of 65-95%.
Group hibernation is typical.Near hot water springs they may congregate in their hundreds.
Mating generally from April-September.Development is completed by late autumn,females hibernate with larvae in their oviducts,and leave their hibernacula in the spring to give birth in brooks,(12-30, maximum 70 individuals)
Maturing in 3rd or 4th years,female TL of 140mm,males 120mm.In captivity lives up to 18 years.
In the 1990s it was subject to commercial trade for terrarium keepers.It is in the Red Data Book of Ukraine,and lives in one nature reserve!
My animals are very robust and breed annually.
 
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manderkeeper

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Yes, these are field collected but they are in pretty good shape. In many discussions with wildlife biologists they have assured me that field collection does not really hurt herp populations. They are too cryptic to ever have enough collected to really hurt the population and the demand is too low. Big game hunting is something really different than collecting some salamanders.
 

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Here are pics of a couple of them, sorry for the bad flash. Also a shed from my basement. I've found a lot of sheds in there and I believe it will be a good place for wild snakes to spend the winter. Since the sheds started showing up I've placed some random water bowls in case they move around some and need a drink. It's humid and about 40-60F depending on the location. The salamanders are in one of the warmer places 58-60F right now. I ran probably keep them at 55-60 until Jan when they will probably dip into the 50s. My friend thinks a mouse may have brought in the sheds or taken them out of my trash but it looks to me like the snake crawled out of the insulation once it was out of the blue in this particular case.
 

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manderkeeper

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Seth,

I am confused also. I cannot seem to find any proof that the salamanders would have actually came from Russia. Hopefully someone familiar with that area can comment if any were allowed for export or if they were simply collected elsewhere and exported through Russia.
 

manderkeeper

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Seth,

thanks for dipping up that info. I'll checking around to see if I can get any more data on the origins of the ones that have been coming into the US lately, it seems like a fair number came in.
 

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Hello,

I will post pictures of polish population from eastern Carpathian mountains tomorrow. They are very cold tolerant and they are Salamandra salamandra :). I personally have seen them travelling after first snowfalls so temperatures were below 0.

Best wishes,
Daniel.
 

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Unless it's changed recently, the Ukrainian salamanders will be S. s. salamandra.

You can see a distribution map (of the species as a whole, not including subspecies) here:
BerkeleyMapper

And there are some (slightly old) subspecies maps on the Caudata culture page:
Caudata Culture Articles - Salamandra Guide
 

Azhael

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They definitely look like S.s.salamandra and this is the only subspecies that has been reported to be collected legally and only from the Ukraine, although i have yet to see any evidence of this other than individual claims. If collected from any other country, it appears safe to say that they cannot be legal collections.

As for this:
Yes, these are field collected but they are in pretty good shape. In many discussions with wildlife biologists they have assured me that field collection does not really hurt herp populations. They are too cryptic to ever have enough collected to really hurt the population and the demand is too low. Big game hunting is something really different than collecting some salamanders.

Oh, as long as they assured you, that's fine. I can't imagine hearing the words "field collection does not really hurt herp populations" from any biologist's mouth. That's a surreally ridiculous generalization, and a demonstrably false one considering that we know of species and populations that have been seriously hurt through field collections. As if all species and all populations are exactly the same. What an absurd thing to say. Furthermore, field collection of large amounts of ADULT herps most certainly hurts any population. The idea that they are too cryptic to be collected in large numbers is utter nonsense, S.salamandra has peak activity periods during which most of a population is briefly active and very easy to both spot and collect. Time it right and you can decimate a population in one sweep.
Look, provided that these are collected in the Ukraine it's even possible that they are legal, but please don't pretend that field collections have no impact on wild populations and don't invent excuses as to why this is totally ok, even though you know nothing about the status of S.salamandra in the wild and the dangers it faces. Also, even if we granted that the collection of large numbers of adults was somehow magically neutral for the populations they are taken from, that everything has been done legally, etc, these are still animals that are treated very poorly during the importation process, that are exposed to very inadequate conditions and no quarantines in an environment where many WC species with supressed inmune systems, in overcrowded conditions are all stored together (this at a time when the spread of pathogens like B.salamandrivorans, ranavirus, amphibiichlamydia, etc, are fast becoming a huge problem). This is terribly problematic and ethically abhorrent on it's own.

I can't stop you from participating from this disgusting, exploitative market, but i can definitely speak my mind when you claim this is just totally fine and peachy.
 

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Not to fear Rodrigo, I usually don't buy WC animals and I may wish I had not purchased these! They are a little lethargic and I get the feeling something is not quite right with them. Granted I've never kept this species before, but most of the newts and salamanders I've had before (tiger salamanders and firebelly newts) ate right off the bat. Even some firebellys that were in bad shape and very skinny ate once I put them in individual shoeboxes for a couple of days. These guys don't seem very interested, but I am going to give the stress of shipping as a possible chance and give them some more time. It seems it should be warm enough to eat, 58F.

Yes, a biologist and a University professor both told me that field collection is obtain blamed unfairly, but if the habitat is in good shape it is not easy to overcollect. The reason is you rarely find an entire population at once even if it seems like a lot of animals to us. Certainly, slow maturing and long lived species are more at risk, but even with bounties on timber rattlesnakes here in the NE USA, they were only wiped out from a few areas. Since then fragmentation, roads, habitat destruction, and now disease has done a much better job of extirpating them
 

Azhael

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I hope people would recognize that there are other reasons to regret purchasing WC animals other than the possibility of getting a bad deal...
I hope the poor things recover from their ordeal. They are tough little beasts, so hopefully they'll make it...

I usually don't buy WC animals
most of the newts and salamanders I've had before (tiger salamanders and firebelly newts)....[]....some firebellys that were in bad shape and very skinny

Yeah, that's not consistent...

Yes, a biologist and a University professor both told me that field collection is obtain blamed unfairly, but if the habitat is in good shape it is not easy to overcollect. The reason is you rarely find an entire population at once even if it seems like a lot of animals to us. Certainly, slow maturing and long lived species are more at risk, but even with bounties on timber rattlesnakes here in the NE USA, they were only wiped out from a few areas. Since then fragmentation, roads, habitat destruction, and now disease has done a much better job of extirpating them
Like i said, this is a gross generalization. It holds true for certain species, certain populations and certain collection modalities (not all forms of collection are remotely the same). It doesn't hold true for every one of them. In the case of these salamanders you have no idea what their population status is in the collection sites, how often and in what numbers they are collected (hint, these are imported in significant numbers and it's not a one off). To assume that everything is fine because some other species is capable of enduring sustainable exploitation does not follow at all.
Also, in order to sustainibly exploit a population it needs to be considered what kind of impact could be had on that population through which kinds of collection (this is why we have ecological studies). The WC market is not bothered by such things...it takes as many animals as possible, from any population, it doesn't care what impact it has. This is not a mindful collection from people taking steps to make sure they are doing things right...this is blind exploitation. Even if you can't collect an entire, or most of a population at once, or in subsequent collections, that does not mean you are not having an impact on it. At the very least, by collecting adults in significant numbers, you are affecting genetic diversity and in this day and age when pathogens are a real, serious, rapidly spreading threat, an impoverished gene-pool can mean further susceptability to those pathogens.
Another important point you mention is the state of the habitat. This is europe we are talking about...we don't have large expansions of untouched wilderness and pristine habitat...for the most part, adequate habitats here are fragile and highly isolated. This is a problem that keeps getting worse because europe is a very highly exploited continent, with a very long history of exploitation. European amphibians are protected for a reason...
Since you don't know where these animals are being taken from, in what numbers, how frequently, what the status of those populations and habitat is and what they are being exposed to during the importation process or how they are being treated, i think your characterisation of this whole thing as "nah, i'm sure it's fine" is extremely suspect.

By the way, if i seem angry i'm afraid it's because i am, this kind of thing pisses me off...even more so because CB fire salamanders exist and are available and because this is a much bigger problem than just you, individually.
 

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I have some good news, I switched to disabled crickets and two of the three have taken at least one cricket each. The crickets are smaller than I think they can handle so I am going to try feeding them a couple of times a day and see if I can put some weight on them. The salamanders are pretty slow at 55F. Do you think I should warm them up so they can move faster or do you think the colder temps will help them put on weight since they won't waste as much metabolic energy? One other question, they are getting some of the coco fiber bedding along with the crickets, impaction risk?
 

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Just wanted to enter an update for anyone else who might get some of these. My stool sample came back with several parasitesrhaditiforn, hookworn, strongyle, eimeria. The lady at the counter told me to use the 5 on a 1ml dosage needle so I did, but when I reread the bottle it says .03 Albon, so I believe the dosage was way off. Fortunately, I only got a little under .3 into the poor guy but I am very concerned what health effects this might have. I am not going to administer any further until the vet confirms tomorrow. He is also on panacur.
 

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Yet another reason not to buy wild caught when captive bred are so readily available.
 

manderkeeper

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I actually don't see many CB fire salamanders for sale in US. Maybe every now and again but as a rule I haven't seen many. I do see one subspecies with some red splotches, forgot which one, but I don't find them attractive. I'm hoping that I can find some LTC or CB examples before I make any further additions though,
 

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Not to fear Rodrigo, I usually don't buy WC animals and I may wish I had not purchased these! They are a little lethargic and I get the feeling something is not quite right with them. Granted I've never kept this species before, but most of the newts and salamanders I've had before (tiger salamanders and firebelly newts) ate right off the bat. Even some firebellys that were in bad shape and very skinny ate once I put them in individual shoeboxes for a couple of days. These guys don't seem very interested, but I am going to give the stress of shipping as a possible chance and give them some more time. It seems it should be warm enough to eat, 58F.

Yes, a biologist and a University professor both told me that field collection is obtain blamed unfairly, but if the habitat is in good shape it is not easy to overcollect. The reason is you rarely find an entire population at once even if it seems like a lot of animals to us. Certainly, slow maturing and long lived species are more at risk, but even with bounties on timber rattlesnakes here in the NE USA, they were only wiped out from a few areas. Since then fragmentation, roads, habitat destruction, and now disease has done a much better job of extirpating them

Try feeding them crickets if you haven't already. Mine won't eat anything but crickets. I've tried just about everything under the sun and all they go for is crickets.
 

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It is not hard at all to find captive bred fire salamanders. Looking at the classifieds on this very forum shows some for sale. Anyways, winter is really not the "season" for CB salamanders anyways.

Not contributing to Salamandra declines in the wild should be a top priority to any Caudate enthusiast.
 

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I actually don't see many CB fire salamanders for sale in US. Maybe every now and again but as a rule I haven't seen many. I do see one subspecies with some red splotches, forgot which one, but I don't find them attractive. I'm hoping that I can find some LTC or CB examples before I make any further additions though,

There are plenty of CB Salamandra species in the US that I have seen. Michael Shrom is selling some right now on this site, and a less common species for a good price too! I bought some from a guy at a expo this spring, CB. I have seen ads elsewhere for CB or LTC Salamandra. Just keep an eye on the for sale section on here, and maybe go to a few expos if you can, and I am sure you will find what you are looking for.
 
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manderkeeper

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Jesse: Mine also eat crickets and only crickets despite my many attempts with nightcrawlers, waxworms, etc. I did get at least one to eat dubia roaches, the problem with the roaches is they hide in the substrate if not eaten right away. Usually they will take crickets right from my finger tips except one which is not eating right now. The other two act better than when I first got them and feed eagerly even at 50-55F so I am feeling good about their chances of being OK.

That is reassuring the hear in a few months the selection for CB animals would be higher. I am looking for the typical form or one with a lot of yellow blotches. I do not care for the forms with duller colors.
 
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