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Andrias scheuchzeri (SciiFii).jpg

The European giant salamander (Andrias scheuchzeri) is a species of giant salamander that originally lived in what is now Germany from the Oligocene to the Pliocene and was once extinct, but has since been brought back from extinction by SciiFii and introduced to the wetlands and humid forests across Europe to help boost biodiversity. The European giant salamander is fully aquatic and spends its life through the streams and rivers, although it can also live in many lakes. It has a large head, small eyes, and dark, wrinkly skin. Its flat, broad head has a wide mouth, round, lidless eyes, and a line of paired tubercles that run around its head and throat. Its color is typically dark brown, almost black in color, with a mottled or speckled pattern, but it can also be other brownish tones, dark reddish, or black. Albinos, which are white or orange, have been recorded. Like all known species of giant salamanders, the European giant salamander produces a sticky, white skin secretion that repels predators. The average adult salamander weighs 25–30 kg (55–66 lb) and is 115 cm (3.77 ft) in length. It can reach up to 50 kg (110 lb) in weight and 180 cm (5.9 ft) in length, making it one of the largest modern-styled amphibian species. The giant salamander is known to vocalize, making barking, whining, hissing, or crying sounds. Some of these vocalizations bear a striking resemblance to the crying of a young human child. The European giant salamander is known to feed on insects, millipedes, horsehair worms, amphibians (both frogs and salamanders), freshwater crabs, shrimp, fish and water shrews. Presumably ingested by mistake, plant material and gravel have also been found in their stomachs. Cannibalism is frequent; in a study of 79 specimens from the French–German range, the stomach content of five included remains of other European giant salamanders and this made up 28% of the combined weight of all food items in the study. It has very poor eyesight, so it depends on special sensory nodes that run in a line on the body from head to tail. It is capable of sensing the slightest vibrations around it with the help of these nodes. Both sexes maintain a territory, averaging 40 m2 (430 sq ft) for males and 30 m2 (320 sq ft) for females. The reproductive cycle is initiated when the water temperature reaches 20 °C (68 °F) and mating occurs between July and September. The female lays 400–500 eggs in an underwater breeding cavity, which is guarded by the male until the eggs hatch after 50–60 days. When laid, the eggs measure 7–8 mm (0.28–0.31 in) in diameter, but they increase to about double that size by absorbing water. When hatching, the larvae are about 3 cm (1.2 in) long and external gills remain until a length of about 20 cm (8 in) at an age of 3 years. Maturity is reached at an age of 5 to 6 years and a length of 40–50 cm (16–20 in). The maximum age reached by European giant salamanders is unknown, but it is at least 60 years based on captive individuals. The conservation status of the European giant salamander is Vulnerable due to some habitat loss and historic poaching, however, thanks to conservationists, the populations of the European giant salamanders in the wild are recovering.

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