The Unexpected Twist in the Salamander’s Tail

A tail is a very important thing for a salamander. It stores fats and proteins, assists with movement, and not to mention, helps to impress a mate. But the tail can also work to deter predators. Should a salamander find itself faced with a predator such as a snake, it can try to make itself too big to be eaten by grabbing the end of its tail with its mouth. A handy trick, but not as impressive as the salamander’s grand finale; salamanders can self-amputate their tails.

“If a predator strikes, the tail is left writhing and wriggling on the ground. This distracts the predator long enough that the body can escape” said Dr. Aaron Sullivan, co-author of a new study published in the Canadian Journal of Zoology….

This story was written for - and can be read in full at - Canadian Science Publishing.

Header Image: Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander (Desmognathus ochrophaeus) by Dave Huth (CC BY-NC 2.0)