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Lungless Salamanders: Plethodontidae - Behavior And Reproduction

species water dwelling eggs

Lungless salamanders commonly live close together in large numbers and typically are the most numerous vertebrates (VER-teh-brehts), or animals with backbones, in a region. Lungless salamanders are secretive by day and active by night. They have small home ranges. The only ones that make seasonal travels are the few species that breed in water. Lungless salamanders that live in streams are more active than land-dwelling species, but most species can move quickly when disturbed, and they are good at escaping capture. The land-dwelling species, especially the tropical species, rely more on stealth than speed to avoid detection and capture and do not move as quickly as water-dwelling species. Some lungless salamanders are aggressive and fight to defend their territory.

All lungless salamanders have complex mating behavior, and mating can take many hours. More than half of the species are strictly land-dwelling and lay large eggs that they hide in spaces under rocks or logs, in moss mats, in balls of moss hanging in plants, in trees, and in plants that grow in trees. The eggs of these species hatch weeks after being laid, and the young look like small adults. Some species of lungless salamanders lay eggs in or near shallow water, typically moving water, and the eggs hatch into water-dwelling larvae that take a few months to three years to go through metamorphosis. A few species live their entire lives as larvae.


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