Tuesday, 14 April 2009

How to Tell the Difference Between a Salamander and a Lizard...

This little fellow - along with his or her mate - runs up and down the tree that is beside our Villa at Nongsa. Every morning we see them and it has not been easy to capture an image of them!!

Salamanders and lizards often look similar. They are, however, very different from one another. Salamanders are amphibians and lizards are reptiles. This list of a few traits should help anyone distinguish between these two groups of herpetiles.

Step1
Determine habitat. Salamanders used to be called fire lizards because they were frequently seen climbing out of logs that were placed on the fire. People thought the fire generated the salamanders, but they were simply inhabiting the cool moist logs and attempting to escape them when they were ignited. Because salamanders are amphibians, they require moist conditions (if not solely water) in which to live. They can be found under leaves in the forest, or under rocks in a stream. Lizards are adapted for hotter climates and can be nearly independent of water and live in the desert. They are often found basking in the sun.

Step2
Consider differences in morphology. While at first glance salamanders and lizards appear similar, there are many differences. Salamander skin is smooth and moist and without scales. They have stumpy toes that have a limited ability to regenerate when severed. Lizards possess skin that is dry and scaly much like a snakes. Their toes are longer and can be used for climbing.

Step3
Figure out breeding. Salamanders have eggs without shells, and must lay them in a moist environment. Many salamander eggs, in fact, must be entirely submerged because when the larvae hatch they have gills and are dependent on water. These aquatic salamanders go through metamorphosis just as frogs do. Lizard eggs have shells and their nests are typically in the sand. Upon hatching, young lizards are simply small versions of their parents with no metamorphosis necessary.

Step4
Analyze size. While there are some amphibians that can reach lengths of around 6 feet, this is not usual. Therefore, very large lizard-like animals are probably lizards.


3 comments:

cynic said...

Hi, do you know where can one buy a salamander in Singapore?

Leone said...

Sorry, no idea where to purchase one .... I would have thought they would be a 'protected species'!

cynic said...

Yup, just found out it it under banned list.