Alpensalamander (Salamandra atra) CC0 Membeth (

Alpine salamander


The males of the Alpine salamander remain on average slightly smaller than the females, which grow up to about 15 cm long. On average, the animals grow to a length of 11-12 cm. 

The animals are uniformly black in colour and appear somewhat less stocky than fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra). When healthy, the animals are shiny. The underparts are lead-grey and a longitudinal groove runs down to the tail. The male can be distinguished from the female externally by a slightly more protruding cloaca.

The black eyes and the prominent ear glands (paratoid glands) are clearly visible on the head, which is broader than long and has a rounded snout. Along the flanks of the body, the animals have a series of warty and roundish elevations containing glandular exits. The trunk is segmented laterally by eleven to thirteen costal furrows. The tail is not as long as the trunk and is almost quadrangular in cross-section; it ends relatively pointed.


The habitats of the Alpine salamander include karst areas and high mountain ravines. In the Alps, it usually occurs from altitudes of 1000 m, regionally also from 800 m; only rarely are specimens found at lower altitudes. Sometimes such finds can also be due to the drifting of animals with torrential streams. Predominantly moist deciduous and mixed mountain forests near mountain streams are colonised, above the tree line biotopes such as moist alpine pastures, dwarf shrub heaths and scree slopes. Here the Alpine salamander can be found under stones or deadwood.

Favourable habitats for dense populations are stabilised boulder and scree slopes, greasy meadows, forest edges and mountain forests. Within the forests, pure coniferous forest areas are rather avoided, deciduous-coniferous mixed forests and especially deciduous forest areas are preferred. The highest densities are found along small forest streams or in spray zones at the foot of waterfalls. Ravines also offer good living conditions.

The Alpine salamander tends to occur at sites with a basic soil reaction and high pH values. This also explains why sites with acidic soil reaction are problematic for it. This also explains why it occurs more frequently in deciduous forests than in coniferous forests with low pH values. Fertilisation has a positive effect on its occurrence, as fat meadows are moister than lean meadows. The Alpine salamander is site-faithful; its habitat is only a few square meters in size. 

The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia ( On wikipedia the text is available under a „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ licence. Status: 29 June 2021