A pair of European fire salamanders are settling in to a new home at Bristol Aquarium.
Aquarists at the Harbourside attraction are hoping the brightly coloured amphibians, which are found throughout central and southern Europe, will eventually form a breeding pair.
Noted for their extraordinary markings, which vary from individual to individual, the fire salamander can grow up to 25 cms long.
The species is also extremely long lived, with one captive specimen in Germany living for more than 50 years.
It’s thought the fire salamander got its name from folklore; the species will often live in damp crevices and cracks within living trees.
If these trees were cut down and used for firewood the salamanders would crawl out of the wood to safety giving rise to the idea they were actually born out of fire.
Bristol Aquarium’s David Waines said: “The fire salamanders are beautiful-looking amphibians. The bright colouring is actually a warning to would-be predators that they are poisonous.
“They secrete a neurotoxin from special glands which can, potentially, be harmful to humans so we have to take extra care when handling them,” he added.
There are believed to be more than 550 different species of salamander alive today. They are usually lizard-like in appearance, with a long tail.
Some species are totally aquatic while others spend very little time submerged; however their moist skin means most must remain close to water to survive.
Unique among vertebrates, they are capable of regenerating lost limbs, as well as other body parts.
Fossil remains of salamanders have been found in Asia which date back more than 160 million years.
Issued on behalf of Bristol Aquarium. For more information and to arrange interviews/picture opportunities please contact David Waines or Dan de Castro on 0117 929 8929.
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