Early amphibian observations and surprising leeches!

France, British isles

Early amphibian observations and surprising leeches!

Postby Guillaume Blanchet » Thu Feb 21, 2019 3:33 am

Hi All,

A short report about my observation in central France (Indre) on late January (pictures took on January 31st)
It is a temporary pond in the woods (car track), mostly under the shadows of the trees, no aquatic plants, max depth around 15cm at that time.

That’s a spot I knew for long for its fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) larvae. And again this time I was not disappointed on that part.
salamander_larvae.jpg
Numerous fire salamander larvae were found during day time.


What was interesting was the dozens of Lissotriton heleveticus, only males, observed roaming at night only. They were not yet with their nuptial colouration but few “interactions“ between males were witnessed.
newt1.jpg

newt2.jpg

newt3.jpg


More surprising to me: leeches!
leeche1.jpg


They were relentlessly crawling on the bottom, I guess hunting for larvae or newt (??) unfortunately I did not witness any feeding.
Does anyone has already observed such leeches, or can give me the ID. Size from 5 to 15cm when fully extended
leeche2.jpg



While leaving, we spotted a really huge adult fire salamander (check the newt next to its head) on the pond shore. I thought it was a female ready to deliver some larvae but I’m not sure about that. Did not disturb it too long.
salamander.jpg
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Re: Early amphibian observations and surprising leeches!

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Thu Feb 21, 2019 8:42 pm

Yep, that's a female. And by the looks of her, she already dropped most of her offspring.
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Re: Early amphibian observations and surprising leeches!

Postby Guillaume Blanchet » Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:11 am

Thanks Jeroen!
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Re: Early amphibian observations and surprising leeches!

Postby Ilian Velikov » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:31 am

I've seen leeches in shallow puddles next to a deeper newt breeding pond in UK but I can't really tell if they were the same species or not. Size sounds about right. But why are you so surprised to find them?
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Re: Early amphibian observations and surprising leeches!

Postby Ilian Velikov » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:34 am

Jeroen, just curious how did you recognize it was a female just by that one photo? Size, proportions, tail base...or just the fact it was in the water? Give us some tips.
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Re: Early amphibian observations and surprising leeches!

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:03 pm

Ilian Velikov wrote:just the fact it was in the water?

Yes.
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Re: Early amphibian observations and surprising leeches!

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:03 pm

:lol:
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Re: Early amphibian observations and surprising leeches!

Postby Jeroen Speybroeck » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:04 pm

The stuff you mentioned. A lot is jizz-like stuff and hard to prove in photos, but the tail base of a male is wider in all directions. And the tail is a bit longer, the head more pronounced, .... A lot of subtle things. The loose hanging belly is also (very) rare in males and typically a post-birth thing.
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Re: Early amphibian observations and surprising leeches!

Postby Guillaume Blanchet » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:02 am

Hi Ilian,

I was surprised because I knew well that spot (and its surroundings) at different times (spring, summer, winter) and since long time (20 years) and yes, finding not only one but a bunch of leeches was not expected at all (as well as newt at that time of the year on that place too)...

I found another one in a little puddle 100 metres away. So not localized to one site only.
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Re: Early amphibian observations and surprising leeches!

Postby Alexander Pieh » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:11 pm

Dear Guillaume,
phoresie (using other animals for transpotation...) between leeches and amphibians seems to be quite common. At last I have observed it between Epobdella and Pelopylax ridibundus ca. 50m away from a lake.
Maybe one fertilised leech came with a newt?
Greetings
Alex
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