Added 17 August 2003. Last updated 20 December 2007: expanded Notes and Bibliography.

Newts and Salamanders of Europe

Genus Chioglossa - Golden-Striped Salamander

A monotypic genus whose species is limited to NW Iberia. See Notes for details. I have not heard of any being kept in captivity, but were such captivity legal, I imagine necessary conditions would be somewhat similar to those of Hynobius species or the North American Pseudotriton ruber: conditions that many keepers would find it difficult to recreate.

As of 2004 the IUCN Red List listed Chioglossa lusitanica as "Near Threatened".

Chioglossa lusitanica, Golden-Striped Salamander    

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
C. lusitanica
Golden-Striped Salamander [Fr Chioglosse portugais: D Goldstreifen- Salamander, Chioglossa: E Salamandra rabilarga] N. Portugal, N. Spain (Asturias and Galicia) 6"/16cm A rather lizard-like salamander in its movements (skittering side-to-side) and ability to shed its tail (autotomy) as a defensive measure. The tail accounts for up to two-thirds of the total body length and serves as a fat storage area. If shed, it can be regenerated, but is rather grey compared to the original. The eyes are rather prominent and the parotid glands quite visible. The head is long with a rounded snout, and there is a gular fold. There are 10-12 weakly defined costal grooves. The limbs are small, having 4 fingers and 5 toes, with polydactyly (Busack) sometimes occurring. Although there are no subspecies, specimens from the southern part of the range tend to be smaller with narrower heads and shorter toes, and shorter tails relative to the body length: the longitudinal lines are often broken up and less distinct. C. lusitanica is found up to 1,300m up in wet mountain areas with deciduous forest, where it spends the day under rocks and vegetation, coming out at night. Individuals have also been found in caves and abandoned mines. The Golden Salamander lives near mountain streams and is a strong swimmer, often taking to water if in flight. Nöllert and Nöllert note that this water is usually quite oxygen-rich with a pH of 4.5-6.5. The winters in this area (Atlantic hinterland) are fairly mild: hibernation is not always necessary, but instead Chioglossa may estivate in the summer. Busack (1976) reported that from literature, thermal preferences in water were 9-19 deg C for adults and 17.5-19 deg C for larvae, and the maximum critical in the 28-36 deg C range. Air temperatures were reported to be 20-25 deg C with 26 deg C as an upper limit. Prey consists of very small invertebrates, preferably spiders but including various flies and ants, and items such as springtails. Busack's survey in 1976 painted a rather gloomy picture of the decline of the species across its range due to agricultural replacement of much of its natural habitat and pollution of its streams, but the situation may have stabilised since due to conservation measures. Coloration: dorsally brown with two coppery longitudinal dorsal stripes which join together in the pelvic region to form a single stripe on the tail: the ventral area is grey or brown. Brame and Freytag (1963) recorded a "semialbino" specimen which was predominantly a light brown colour, somewhat darker on the body and whose stripes were present but lacking the normal metallic iridescence. Reproduction: sexual maturity is reached at about 4 years of age. Males are generally smaller than females but have a swollen cloaca and longer forearms, on which nuptial swellings develop during the breeding season. Interestingly, the breeding season seems to vary from place to place, even within the same area. Males assemble ahead of the females in certain breeding grounds. During this period, both sexes take little or no nourishment. The male moves behind or sideways on to the female and places himself under her: copulation lasts up to 20 minutes [Salvador]. After mating the female lays a clutch of 15-20 in swiftly flowing currents, usually individually: however, several females may select the same spots, thus building up an accumulation of eggs. The eggs take 6-8 (sometimes 10) weeks to develop and hatch. Metamorphosis takes place between July and the end of September, or for those larvae which overwinter in this condition, from the middle of April until the beginning of July.


"A Review of the Biology of the Gold-Striped Salamander, Chioglossa lusitanica (Amphibia: Salamandridae)", Stephen D Busack, Biol. Cons. (10) 1976.

"Ein Halbalbino von Chioglossa lusitanica", Arden H Brame Jr and Günther E Freytag, from "Der Zoologische Garten", Vol 27.1/3, 1963.

Reptiles and Amphibians, Vaclav Lanka and Zbysek Vit, Hamlyn Colour Guide, Prague, 1985

Die Amphibien Europas, Andreas and Christel Nöllert, Franckh-Kosmos, Stuttgart, 1992.

Guia de campo de los anfibios y reptiles de la peninsula iberica, islas baleares y canarias [Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Iberian Peninsula, Balearic and Canary Islands], Alfredo Salvador, Madrid. ISBN: 84-86238-07-2. Excellent book covering all reptiles and amphibians in the aforementioned areas with a section on each species. The one drawback for English speakers is that the text is Spanish. This book is unfortunately now out of print, but well worth purchasing if you can get a second hand copy.

Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain and Europe, E N Arnold, J A Burton, D W Ovenden, 2002 edition.

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