It's always worth it to go out (for Salamandra) ;-)

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It's always worth it to go out (for Salamandra) ;-)

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:07 pm

Yesterday evening, a little bit of rain, not too much wind, temps between 5 and 10°C. Although it became colder during the night (frost covered the ground this morning), I was still able to spot 25(!) of these beasties.
A slow start, expecting to find nothing, but then 5 at once. Gave me fresh energy to keep searching. Advantage of this late season stuff = I don’t have to wait until dark, because it gets dark so early :D .

Here’s one of the first ones, with my highly scientific standard calibration tool (exactly 60mm), for post hoc digital measurements.
IMG_9259.JPG


Mostly males …
IMG_9272.JPG

IMG_9284.JPG

IMG_9263.JPG


… but also a couple of big fat mommas…
IMG_9270.JPG


… and quite some juveniles (more than at other times? Should check data).
IMG_9264.JPG

IMG_9281.JPG


A family scene - this juvenile was actually half-hidden beneath the adult male’s body when I spotted them. The adult male crawled over my lens cap, after I put it next to them.
IMG_9288.JPG


The last two animals were kind of exciting, because it was an amplexus. The first time I ever witnessed this. Hidden under the roots of a half-fallen tree, so I could not get too close (=> crappy shots).
IMG_9296.JPG

IMG_9302.JPG


Decided to leave them alone, and crawled out of the hole under the tree roots. Took a minute to check my pictures, looking back at the couple briefly, to see that they were no longer together (top dog was running off). My fault!!?? Decided to grab them, to get to know who was mating (in vain).

Now comes the trouble – after checking the cloacal swelling, I was sure these were in fact 2 males.
However,
(1) the lower animal looks so big/large on the picture (see below), that I doubt it could be anything else but female;
(2) would a male fold its front legs like the lower animal in the amplexus does (possibly forced by upper animal?)?

IMG_9305.JPG


Unfortunately, I did not photograph the cloaca, but I begin to wonder if I am really that bad at sexing Salamandra

Any ideas?

In any case, I found it interesting to observe (homo?)sexual activity at this late date.

"Funny/Troubling" anecdote - my girlfriend received a phone call from the police, who had checked my licence plate. A concerned local phoned them, because the woods I visit many times each year is apparently a known spot for suicide... What the %£$# ?
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Re: It's always worth to go out (for Salamandra) ;-)

Postby Jürgen Gebhart » Mon Nov 28, 2011 7:18 pm

Sounds like a funny and interesting night!
But the most spectacular thing for me is “Rain”! What is that?
We don`t have any rain since more than 5 or 6 weeks.

I wish I have also Salamandra salamandra in my area.
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Re: It's always worth to go out (for Salamandra) ;-)

Postby GertJan Verspui » Mon Nov 28, 2011 10:02 pm

Great findings and photo's Jeroen, but really strange that a lot off them live together with a canon lens protector...
Amphibian & Reptile Adventures http://www.gertjanverspui.com
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Re: It's always worth to go out (for Salamandra) ;-)

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:54 am

GertJan Verspui wrote:live together with a canon lens protector...


Well, that's because of my intentions of a demographic study (enough pics, but lack of time for processing, so far).

Someone told me that it's a case of male rivalry, as described here =>
http://vipersgarden.at/PDF_files/PDF-2510.pdf

I don't know... Why would the lower "guy" fold its front legs like that? Also, it lasted several minutes, not like Kästle's "The most
typical embrace phase /Figs 2, 5.3/ only lasts for a matter of seconds.".
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Re: It's always worth to go out (for Salamandra) ;-)

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:11 am

This is highly educational...



BUT not what I saw... Just some calm wiggling...
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Re: It's always worth to go out (for Salamandra) ;-)

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:18 am



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Re: It's always worth to go out (for Salamandra) ;-)

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:36 am

I'm an idiot... I mixed up the position of male and female, in a false frog analogy, I guess...

Since it's the male which goes under the female when mating, my doubt about the gender of the lower animal is rather irrelevant - it has to be a male that does this wrestling hold on the upper animal!

To conclude, it seems I did witness some "gay love" after all. This also explains why the top animal suddenly was in a hurry to get away (after he was able to get out of the stranglehold ;) ).
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Re: It's always worth to go out (for Salamandra) ;-)

Postby Daniel Kane » Wed Nov 30, 2011 9:48 am

Anyone have thoughts on reasons for this 'gay love'? Last April I saw a similar thing in male berus; A male was mate-guarding a female when another male appeared. For over an hour the three snakes lay there and not once did the two males attempt any kind of ritualized displays, but the 'original' male did wrap his tail around the 'new' males tail which looked like attempted mating. My thoughts would be the male doing the mate-guarding showing dominance over the new male. In pet cockatoos it is known that a male attempting to mate with another is a show of dominance, and with birds and reptiles being fairly close in the evolutionary tree, maybe these activities are related somehow.
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Re: It's always worth to go out (for Salamandra) ;-)

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:14 am

With horny common toads in mind, I'd say that it's often just due to high testosteron levels, maybe enforced by not having been able to mate. What you're describing is however something else, I'd say. Intriguing...
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Re: It's always worth to go out (for Salamandra) ;-)

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:44 am

Here's another episode of fire salamander activity, featuring once more the stupid lense cap ;)

It keeps going on...

141 of those crazy rain lovers in a wet, wet, wet night
= more than 1 every 2 minutes, including taking picture and GPS of each one
= on the main track of my hike, that's about 1 animal every 5 meters (including some parts which are actually quite a bit tougher to search, because of vegetation)
= a never-ending madness of jumping from one animal to the next

Crushes my previous top number of about 72, of course again in part because it doesn't require staying in the woods until after midnight. I'm sure that it should be possible to count several hundreds, if anyone would be crazy enough to go on all night (for any reason... ;) ).

First some horror...
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Not a good start, but I need to check if I encountered this guy before, when things were looking brighter for him.

Again quite some juvs, much more than at other visits.
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Especially for GertJan, one without the ugly lense cap...
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A female with a strange lump...
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Arriving at the scene where I spotted the 2 lover boys on Sunday, I found this ...
IMG_9439.jpg

Are they the same two animals?
IMG_9441.jpg

Not both; the smaller one, which was harassed(?) on Sunday, is at the bottom this time. Poor boy... :lol:
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