Face to Face: Salamandrina terdigitata

Salamandrina terdigitata

Notice the yellow-brown spot between the eyes, that earns this animal the name of “Spectacled Salamander”, and the brightly red underside (here barely visible), which can be shown to predators as a deterrent.

Here we are again documenting my encounters with wild animals! This photo was taken some years ago in my region, Emilia Romagna (I don’t remember exactly where – sorry). It was in a beautiful natural landscape, a forest on the Appennines, with a crystal clear stream. In the water there were Common Toads (Bufo bufo) mating: a huge female had already laid a long string of eggs, and the smaller male on her was fertilizing the new ones coming out. And then I saw it: into the water, a Salamandrina terdigitata, the Spectacled Salamander, a small and extremely beautiful species endemic of Italy (it’s even the symbol of the Unione Zoologica Italiana); as many amphibian species, it’s becoming increasingly rare – that was the only occasion, to date, in which I’ve seen it, and there were at least three of them in the small pond in which the toads where mating! It was a further proof of that place’s uniqueness – S. terdigitata is, in fact, an important indicator of environmental health. It was unfortunate that the presence of a large field nearby, perfect for picnic, attracted a lot of people in the area, and putting the animals at risk of stress (some kids that were starting to harass the toads with a stick were promptly stopped by my father). Even more annoying was a friend of us, who threw unexpectedly and nonchalantly an used tissue into the stream, edvidently not aware of the value of that place. I can only hope that that small wildlife sanctuary is still safe, and so the toads and the beautiful spectacled salamanders.

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One comment on “Face to Face: Salamandrina terdigitata

  1. […] Not to mention the most awesome environmentalist ad ever made, and my encounters with rare animals and plants. So, I hope I’ll come back soon and better than ever. Long live The Cladogram! […]

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