Abnormalities in European Fire Salamanders (Salamandra salamandra, Salamandridae, Amphibia) observed in Their Wintering Roosts

Agnieszka A. Balicka, Mária Lapšanská, Marcel Uhrin, Mária Figurová, Alexandra Trbolová, Monika Balogová


Extreme sensitivity and relatively rapid reaction to environmental changes makes amphibians suitable bioindicators of environmental health. Chemical contaminants, developmental disruptors, ultraviolet radiation, parasitic and viral infections, intrinsic developmental constraints are common factors causing malformations of individuals. In the period October 2017 – February 2018 we investigated fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) wintering in underground roosts in Slovakia, Europe. Individuals were measured (SVL, snout-vent length; TBL, total body length), weighed and underwent ophthalmic examination, including tonometry. From 80 individuals, three salamanders with malformations were observed. The deformities recorded were a skin deformity in the lumbar region of one individual, unilateral microphthalmia and syndactyly of the right forelimb. Two of these deformities were detected during one inspection of the artificial gallery. In this paper we also mention incidence of deformities during our several years of research on fire salamanders in Slovakia.


amphibians; microphthalmia; syndactyly; malformations

Full Text:



Arias E. and Zavanella T. (1979), «Teratogenic effects of manganese ethylenebisdithiocarbamate (Maneb) on forelimb regeneration in the adult newt, Triturus cristatus carnifex», Bull. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., 22(1), 297 – 304.

Balogová M. and Uhrin M. (2014), «Patterns of wintering of fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) in an artificial underground roost», North-West. J. Zool., 10(1), 128 – 132.

Balogová M., Miková E., Orendáš P., and Uhrin M. (2015), «Trophic spectrum of Salamandra salamandra in the Carpathians with the first note on food intake by the species during winter», Herpetol. Notes, 8, 371 – 377.

Balogová M., Jelić D., Kyselová M., and Uhrin M. (2017), «Subterranean systems provide a suitable overwintering habitat for Salamandra salamandra», Int. J. Speleol., 46(3), 321 – 329.

Blaustein A. R. and Johnson P. T. J. (2003), «The complexity of deformed amphibians», Front. Ecol. Environ., 1(2), 87 – 94.

Böhme W., Thiesmeier B., and Grossenbacher K. (2004), «Salamandra salamandra (Linnaeus, 1758) — Feuersalamander», in: B. Thiesmeier and K. Grossenbacher (eds.), Handbuch der Reptilien und Amphibien Europas. Band 4/IIB. Schwanzlurche (Urodela) IIB, Salamandridae III: Triturus 2, Salamandra, Aula Verlag, Wiebelsheim, pp. 1080 – 1092.

Burton E. C., Miller D. L., Styer E. L., and Gray M. J. (2008), «Amphibian ocular malformation associated with frog virus 3», Vet. J., 177(3), 442 – 444.

de Silva A. (2011), «Some observations of malformation, eye disease, parasitic and viral infection and the effects of agrochemicals on amphibians in Sri Lanka», Froglog, 98, 24 – 26.

Droin A. and Fischberg M. (1980), «Abnormal limbs (abl), a recessive mutation affecting the tadpoles of Xenopus l. laevis», Experientia, 36(11), 1286 – 1288.

Eaton B. R., Eaves S., Stevens C., Puchniak A., and Paszkowski C. A. (2004), «Deformity levels in wild populations of the wood frog (Rana sylvatica) in three ecoregions of western Canada», J. Herpetol., 38(2), 283 – 287.

Elgue E., Pereira G., Achaval-Coppes F., and Maneyro R. (2014), «Validity of photo-identification technique to analyze natural markings in Melanophryniscus montevidensis (Anura: Bufonidae)», Phyllomedusa, 13(1), 59 – 66.

Fodor A. and Puky M. (2002), «Herpetological methods: II. Protocol for monitoring amphibian deformities under temperate zone conditions», Opusc. Zool. Budapest, 34, 35 – 42.

Francis E. T. B. (1934), The Anatomy of the Salamander, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Guerra C. and Aráoz E. (2016), «Amphibian malformations and body condition across an agricultural landscape of northwest Argentina», Dis. Aquat. Organ., 121(2), 105 – 116.

Haensch G. (1985), «Beobachtungen an einer albinotischen Larve des Feueralamanders», Elaphe, 85(3), 45 – 47.

Harris M. L., Bishop C. A., and Mcdaniel T. V. (2001), «Assessment of rates of deformity in wild frog populations using in situ cages: a case study of leopard frogs (Rana pipiens) in Ontario, Canada», Biomarkers, 6(1), 52 – 63.

Hegde G. and Krishnamurthy S. V. (2014), «Analysis of health status of the frog Fejervarya limnocharis (Anura: Ranidae) living in rice paddy fields of Western Ghats, using body condition factor and AChE content», Ecotoxicol. Environ. Contam., 9(1), 69 – 76.

Henle K., Dubois A., and Vershinin V. (2017a), «A review of anomalies in natural populations of amphibians and their potential causes», Mertensiella, 25, 57 – 164.

Henle K., Dubois A., and Vershinin V. (2017b), «Commented glossary, terminology and synonymies of anomalies in natural populations of amphibians», Mertensiella, 25, 9 – 48.

Hinckley A., Goedbloed D., and Küpfer E. (2015), «First record of limb abnormalities in the Near Eastern fire salamander (Salamandra infraimmaculata)», Herpetol. Bull., 133, 36 – 37.

Johnson P. T. J. and Bowerman J. (2010), «Do predators cause frog deformities? The need for an eco-epidemiological approach», J. Exp. Zool., 314B, 515 – 518.

Kiesecker J. M. (2002), «Synergism between trematode infection and pesticide exposure: a link to amphibian limb deformities in nature?» Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 99(15), 9900 – 9904.

Koskela P. (1974), «Combination of partial adactylism and syndactylism in Rana temporaria L. Aquilo Ser», Zoologica, 15, 37 – 38.

Kupferberg S. J., Catenazzi A., Lunde K., Lind A. J., and Palen W. J. (2009), «Parasitic copepod (Lernaea cyprinacea) outbreaks in foothill yellow-legged frogs (Rana boylii) linked to unusually warm summers and amphibian malformations in Northern California», Copeia, 2009(3), 529 – 537.

Lambiris A. J. L. (1982), «Syndactyly in Bufo maculatus Hallowell (Amphibia: Anura: Bufonidae)», Afr. Zool., 17(3), 122 – 125.

Levine R. P., Monroy J. A., and Brainerd E. L. (2004), «Contribution of eye retraction to swallowing performance in the northern leopard frog, Rana pipiens», J. Exp. Biol., 207(8), 1361 – 1368.

Lynch J. D. (1965), «Apparent syndactyly in a Mexican frog», J. Ohio Herpetol. Soc., 5(2), 57.

Mačát Z., Jeřábková L., Reiter A., Rulík M., and Jablonski D. (2015), «Malformations and body injuries in a hybrid zone of crested newts (Caudata: Salamandridae: Triturus cristatus superspecies)», Acta Herpetol., 10(2), 135 – 141.

Maxinová E., Dobrý M., and Uhrin M. (2018), «Natrix natrix (European grass snake). Diet», Herpetol. Rev., 49(2), 348.

Mester B., Lengyel S., and Puky M. (2015), «Low frequency of amphibian morphological anomalies in a large protected wetland and grassland complex in Hungary», Herpetol. Conserv. Biol., 10(2), 679 – 687.

Meteyer C. U. (2000), Field Guide to Malformations of Frogs and Toads with Radiographic Interpretations, Biological Science Report USGS/BRD/BSR-2000-0005.

Murphy M. B., Hecker M., Coady K. K., Tompsett A. R., Jones P. D., Preez L. H., Everson G. J., Solomon K. R., Carr J. A., Smith E. E., Kendall R. J., van der Kraak G., and Giesy J. P. (2006), «Atrazine concentrations, gonadal gross morphology and histology in ranid frogs collected in Michigan agricultural areas», Aquat. Toxicol., 76, 230 – 245.

Nishikawa K. C. (2000) «Feeding in frogs», in: K. Schwenk (ed.), Feeding. Form, Function and Evolution in Tetrapod Vertebrates, Acad. Press, San Diego, pp. 175 – 193.

Opatrný E. (1983), «Individuelle Identifikation vom Feuersalamander, Salamandra salamandra (Linnaeus, 1758), nach den Hautpigmentzeichnungen», Acta Univ. Palacki. Olomuc. Fac. Rerum Nat. Biol., 78, 107 – 111.

Pardeshi A. (2017), «Observation of a deformity (anophthalmia) in the critically endangered Amboli toad (Xanthophryne tigerina) from the Western Ghats of India», IRCF Rept. Amphib., 24(2), 118 – 119.

Piha H., Pekkonen M., and Merilä J. (2006), «Morphological abnormalities in amphibians in agricultural habitats: a case study of the common frog Rana temporaria», Copeia, 2006(4), 810 – 817.

Ramalho W. P., Maffei F., Guerra V., Da Silva D. P., De Matos L. R., and Vieira L. J. (2017), «Anophthalmia in adults of two Amazonian treefrogs (Anura: Hylidae)», Herpetol. Bull., 139, 43 – 44.

Simon E., Puky M., Braun M., and Tóthmérész B. (2011), «Frogs and toads as biological indicators in environmental assessment», in: J. L. Murray (ed.), Frogs: Biology, Ecology and Uses, Nova Science Publishers, Hauppauge, New York, pp. 141 – 150.

Slavkay M. (ed.) (2004), Mineral Deposits of the Slovak Ore Mountains. Vol. 2, Štátny geologický ústav Dionýza Štúra, Bratislava.

Soto-Rojas C., Suazo-Ortuño I., Montoya Laos J. A., and Alvarado-Díaz J. (2017), «Habitat quality affects the incidence of morphological abnormalities in the endangered salamander Ambystoma ordinarium», PLoS One, 12(8), e0183573.

Thiesmeier B. (1990), «Laufkäfer (Carabidae) als Freßfeinde frisch metamorphosierter Feuersalamander», Salamandra, 26, 218 – 220.

Welsh H. H. and Ollivier L. M. (1998)», Stream amphibians as indicators of ecosystem stress: a case study from California’s redwoods», Ecol. Appl., 8(4), 1118 – 1132.

Williams R. N., Bos D. H., Gopurenko D., and Dewoody J. A. (2008), «Amphibian malformations and inbreeding», Biol. Lett., 4(5), 549 – 552.

Zavanella T. and Losa M. (2008), «Skin damage in adult amphibians after chronic exposure to ultraviolet radiation», Photochem. Photobiol., 34(4), 487 – 492.

Zavanella T., Zaffaroni N. P., and Arias E. (1984), «Abnormal limb regeneration in adult newts exposed to the fungicide maneb 80. A histological study», J. Toxicol. Environ. Health, 13(4 – 6), 735 – 745.

Zwach I. (2013), Obojživelníci a plazi České republiky, Grada, Praha.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.30906/1026-2296-2020-27-4-235-239


  • There are currently no refbacks.

You can subscribe to the print or electronic version of the journal on the site of EastView Company. If you have any questions, please write to the email sales@ivis.ru