Fire Salamander

סלמנדרה מצויה
Photo by:Oren Auster

The salamander is an endangered amphibian species that is protected by law in Israel. The main dangers to this species are habitat loss due to poor construction and drying, water pollution, invasive fish, trampling, habitat fragmentation and trade in adult items. The global population of salamanders is also declining. Its range is in the Middle East; Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and Israel, with the Carmel being the southernmost distribution area in the world for this species. Salamander habitats include springs, winter puddles, rock pools and streams in the north of the country, usually at sites located about 200 meters above sea level.

The salamander begins its life as a tadpole in the water and feeds on mosquito larvae and small invertebrates. After about 3 months it is already walking on land in a humid environment, and is active mainly on rainy nights, between the months of October to March, and feeds on barbs, snails and earthworms. During the summer the salamanders disappear from the surface, and little is known about a hiding place. In the back of the salamander there are two glands that secrete a toxin called Samandarin, and the bright colors on its body signal as a warning of its toxicity to other animals.

Since 2017, Yarok Blev NGO has been leading a project aimed at protecting this unique species, by researching, informing and formulating public policy for the conservation of the salamander in the wild in Haifa. The project is led by the nature researcher Olga Rybak, and many other bodies including The Nature and Parks Authority, Haifa University, as well as the general public who assist in monitoring tours and reports from field observations.