Sunday, May 12, 2013

Alpine Salamander

Salamandra atra
Today is Mother's Day, so I thought it might be appropriate to talk about an animal that has one of the longest gestational periods on the planet. Nope, it's not a large mammal like a Giraffe, Whale, or Elephant-- it's a 5in long Amphibian!

Alpine Salamanders live at very high altitudes in the European Alps. That altitude is actually what helps to determine how long they will be pregnant for. The higher up they live, the longer the gestational period. At around 1,700m up it can last as long as three years.

That is particularly amazing considering they only have a 10 year lifespan at best. Also amazing? These Salamanders give birth to live young (ovoviviparous) and at birth their two offspring can each measure 2in long. Mom might only be 5in herself! Talk about big babies!

Alpine Salamanders are completely terrestrial, unlike many of their family members. They range in color from all black to various degrees of yellow spots, depending on the subspecies.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Europe
Size : Length up to 5.5in (14cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Amphibia -- Order : Caudata
Family : Salamandridae -- Genus : Salamandra -- Species : S. atra
Image : bohringer friedrich

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