12 Fun Salamander Facts for Kids [Interesting Facts]
Salamanders are fascinating creatures. Even though they resemble lizards, they are not lizards and don’t belong to the reptile family. They play an essential role in the animal kingdom, and there are over 600 salamander species worldwide.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some facts about salamanders, from how they regenerate parts of their bodies to their role in mythology and culture.
Let’s dive right in.
12 Interesting Facts About Salamanders
1. Salamanders can regenerate various parts of their bodies.
One of the most exciting features of salamanders is that they can regenerate their organs and limbs. Much like geckos, salamanders often drop their tails when escaping predators that could potentially harm and kill them. They usually drop their tails for two reasons. The first is because they need to flee quickly, and the second is because a dropped and wriggling tail distracts the predator and helps buy the salamander some time to escape. They also can regenerate their limbs and organs.
2. Salamanders look similar to lizards.
The average salamander looks quite similar to a lizard. It has a long and slender body in the shape of a cylinder, a blunt snout, and four limbs. They do not have scales, and their skin is smooth and moist to the touch. In terms of colors, salamanders differ in color depending on their species. Some of them have bodies in drab colors, while others are brightly colored, exhibiting a variety of spots, stripes, and other noticeable features. Studies have shown that during mating season, male newts, part of the salamander family, change their appearance and become brightly colored, most probably increasing their chances of attracting a mate.
3. A salamander’s appearance changes depending on its species.
An interesting aspect of the salamander’s physical appearance is that it changes depending on the species it belongs to. For instance, salamanders that live in water, like amphiumas and sirens, either do not have hind limbs or hind limbs that are shorter than average. Aquatic salamanders look similar to eels, but their shorter limbs help them move sidewards. It’s also worth noting that the shape of their feet depends on where they live. For instance, salamanders that climb up various surfaces have long toes with square tips, while rock climbing salamanders have bigger feet with short toes. Additionally, some salamanders have webbed feet. These salamanders are typically tree climbers, so their webbed feet suction the trees’ surfaces and allow them to climb more easily.
4. The salamander’s skin plays an interesting role in its body.
A fact that we found pretty interesting is that the salamander can breathe through its skin, thanks to its skin acting as a kind of respiratory membrane. Still, it is essential to note that these creatures also breathe through their mouths and throats. Aside from breathing through their skin, salamanders also eat their skin after its molts. If you have ever touched a salamander, you’ll know that they are pretty moist to the touch. The moistness in their skin is because of glands under their skin that secrete mucus. This mucus helps with respiration, as well as thermoregulation. It makes their skin slippery, making it easy for them to escape predators. Salamanders also have granular glands across the tops of their bodies that secrete a repellent.
5. Salamanders rely heavily on their senses of smell and sight.
Like every other creature on the planet, salamanders also use their senses of smell and sight to their advantage, particularly when it comes to maintaining their territory and identifying predators. In terms of using their sense of smell, these creatures make use of the olfactory epithelium to pick up smells in water and the air. In terms of vision, it’s important to note that they are nocturnal creatures, so their eyes work better at night. Salamanders are similar to frogs in that they don’t actually have ears. However, their other heightened senses allow them to detect sound when it is airborne. Since they cannot hear, they communicate by using their pheromones.
6. Respiration differs among the various salamander species.
As we mentioned before, the average salamander breathes through its skin. However, it’s important to note that some salamanders breathe through their gills or lungs, depending on the species. When examining salamanders that breathe through their gills, we learned that they draw water in through their mouths, after which the water flows out through the gills. It’s also interesting to note that some salamander species like lose their gills during the period of metamorphosis after keeping them their whole lives. Salamander lung sizes differ depending on the species. For example, salamanders that live in cold water have small lungs with smooth walls, while salamanders living in warm water have large lungs with complicated surfaces.
7. Salamanders are predators.
While they might not exist at the top of the food chain, salamanders are predators in their own right. These creatures are opportunistic in nature, meaning they will change their hunting strategy if they come across the wrong type of prey. They are carnivorous amphibians. One of the most interesting features of their diets is that the foods they eat aren’t restricted to a particular set of animals. Salamanders eat almost any creature, as long as it is of an appropriate size. For example, the Japanese giant salamander eats aquatic insects, fish, crabs, and small mammals.
8. Salamanders use their sense of smell to attract mates.
In many salamander species, the males and females look quite similar, making it difficult for them to distinguish between one another. Since salamanders do not communicate with each other vocally, they use their sense of smell and other tactile cues to find a suitable mate. These tactile cues include using their pheromones and other visual cues. Males typically produce pheromones in their cloacal and abdominal glands. If a male salamander finds a suitable female mate, it will use its snout to seek her out.
9. Scientists want to apply salamander limb regeneration to humans.
Scientists have long since been fascinated by salamanders and their ability to regenerate their limbs. Numerous studies have been and continue to be conducted on stem cells and limb regeneration. Researchers hope to find out what the conditions are that are required to grow new limbs. By studying the process of regeneration, researchers hope to replicate the same process in human beings.
10. Salamanders have been depicted in various cultures for hundreds of years.
Aside from their regeneration abilities and unique physical characteristics, salamanders have been a part of various cultures across the world for hundreds of years. For instance, during the Renaissance, salamanders were seen as creatures with the ability to withstand fire; this belief stemmed from witnessing salamanders living in rotting logs of wood that would be used in a fireplace. Additionally, newts, which are a type of salamander, were commonly associated with the practice of witchcraft.
11. Salamanders use a variety of defensive tactics to escape predators.
Even though salamanders might appear to be weak or vulnerable to predators, these creatures have several defense methods that help them stay safe. For instance, the mucus that coats their skin makes it challenging for predators to grab onto them. The mucus also tastes bad and can be toxic to the creatures that catch them. Salamanders also secrete a toxic fluid that wards predators off. Some salamanders also use their brightly colored skin to their advantage when bigger animals attack them. They will flash a brightly colored part of their body, and the attacking animal retreats.
12. Salamanders hibernate when the weather is cold.
When the season changes and the weather gets cold, salamanders go into hibernation. This means that they often bury themselves in leaves or burrow at the bottom of a river. They hibernate because their bodies cannot withstand freezing cold temperatures. Unfortunately, climate change has begun to affect the salamander population.
In this article, we walked you through a list of interesting facts about salamanders. They look similar to lizards but are, in fact, completely different and unrelated to them! These creatures are fascinating and are unfortunately threatened by disease and climate change. We must protect and conserve them!