Salamanders are solitary creatures. Several myths and legends about them have emerged over the centuries. Many ancient people thought salamanders were fireproof and cold-blooded enough to extinguish flames. But did you know why people during medieval times thought they were fire-resistant?
Salamanders were thought to be resistant to fire due to their habit of hibernating in logs. When these logs were thrown into the fire, the salamanders would scurry out of the logs, which gave the impression that they were born of fire.
The Myth of Fireproof Salamander
Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist, is said to have thrown a salamander into a fire in the first century CE. He did this to see if the salamander would survive the fire. Sadly, the salamander did not survive.
This did not, however, prevent the myth of fireproof salamanders from persisting thousands of years later. The persistence of this myth is most likely due to salamander behavior. Salamanders, as amphibians, must keep their skin moist and prevent it from drying out. This causes them to seek refuge in damp logs or outdoor wood stacks.
When people used this wood to build fires, the salamanders inside would awaken and flee the flames. Seeing so many salamanders emerge from burning wood convinced people that the fire had given birth to them. Some claim to have witnessed salamanders emerge from the fireplace, unharmed by the fire. (Source: Amphibian Planet)
The Poison Myth
Though such salamander encounters are uncommon nowadays, they were much more common when wood was a primary heat source. Such salamander encounters continued to occur, and the legend of the fireproof salamanders persisted.
Salamanders were also associated with other myths besides their ability to withstand fire. It was said that salamanders were so poisonous that if one fell into a well, it poisoned the water, and anyone who drank from it died.
While salamanders are poisonous, their toxicity has been greatly exaggerated. The vast majority of salamanders’ toxins are ineffective enough to kill humans. Furthermore, it was thought that salamanders lacked digestive organs and had saliva that destroyed human hair. Fortunately, none of these myths are true; salamanders are like (Source: Amphibian Planet)
Can Salamanders Survive Fire?
Salamanders are extremely sensitive to heat, so if one comes into contact with fire and cannot escape, it will perish. On the other hand, salamanders can survive wildfires, but not because they are fireproof.
Salamanders are semi-aquatic creatures that live both on land and in water. By hiding in the water, they can avoid wildfires that would kill other animals.
Some salamanders thrive in the aftermath of a wildfire when there is a lot of loose debris on the forest floor.
Because ancient people were unaware of this, they attributed salamanders’ ability to survive wildfires to their fireproof skin, which contributed to the belief that salamanders were immune to fire. (Source: Amphibian Planet)
Can Salamanders Be Pets?
Many salamander species are on the verge of extinction. As a result, certain salamander species are illegal to own in some states in the United States. If you want to keep one of these amphibians as a pet, make sure you check the laws in your area. (Source: Amphibian Planet)
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