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Asiatic Salamanders: Hynobiidae - Semirechensk Salamander (ranodon Sibiricus): Species Accounts

Animal Life ResourceAmphibiansAsiatic Salamanders: Hynobiidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Hokkaido Salamander (hynobius Retardatus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, DIET, ASIATIC SALAMANDERS AND PEOPLE


Physical characteristics: Semirechensk salamanders are 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) long. The tail is as long as the rest of the body and has a ridge along the top. The body is brown with scattered black spots. Adult Semirechensk salamanders have small lungs.

Geographic range: Semirechensk salamanders live in the Ala Tau mountains and the Tien Shan mountains of eastern Kazakhstan and western China.

Habitat: Semirechensk salamanders live in mountain streams and marshes 5,000 to 9,000 feet (1,500 to 2,750 meters) above sea level.

Diet: Larvae of Semirechensk salamanders and salamanders that have just completed metamorphosis eat the larvae of water-dwelling invertebrates. Adults eat water-dwelling and land-dwelling invertebrates.

Behavior and reproduction: Semirechensk salamanders hunt for food at night. The larvae begin hunting four to eight days after they hatch. These salamanders continue to hunt during metamorphosis. Semirechensk salamanders live in mountain streams and marshes. (© Joseph T. Collins/Photo Researchers, Inc.) The breeding season is May to July. Semirechensk salamanders take two to three years to go through metamorphosis. Male Semirechensk salamanders are the only Asiatic salamanders that make bags of sperm. They attach the sperm bags to the undersides of rocks and plants, and females attach their egg sacs to the same rocks and plants, where fertilization takes place. Male Semirechensk salamanders, not the females, choose the breeding sites.

Semirechensk salamanders and people: Semirechensk salamanders have no known importance to people.

Conservation status: The World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists Semirechensk salamanders as Endangered, or facing very high risk of extinction in the wild. They are under protection in both Russia and China. The small geographic range and damage to their habitat are the main threats to the survival of Semirechensk salamanders. These salamanders do well in captivity, and some scientists are trying to return them to the wild. ∎



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Duellman, William E., and Linda Trueb. Biology of Amphibians. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.

Gunzi, Christiane. Amphibians and Reptiles of North America. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay, 1995.

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Petranka, J. W. Salamanders of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998.

Web sites:

Heying, H. "Hynobiidae." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Hynobiidae.html (accessed on April 5, 2005).

"Hynobiidae (Cope, 1859) Asiatic Salamanders." Livingunderworld.org. http://www.livingunderworld.org/caudata/families/index.htm#hynobiidae (accessed on April 5, 2005).

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