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Salamander Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Salamanders are one kind of amphibian that live in all different parts of the world. This lesson will teach you about salamanders, the different ways they breathe, what they look like, and some other cool facts about them.

What is a Salamander?

Imagine sitting by a pond when you notice a very interesting creature. At first, you think it's a lizard because of its tail, but it also sort of looks like a frog, with shiny, wet skin. It doesn't move very fast, but you still aren't sure what it is. You haven't discovered a new kind of animal; you're looking at a salamander!

Salamander
Salamander

Salamanders are animals that live on land or in the water, and have tails, small legs, and (usually) smooth skin. They are amphibians, which means they are cold-blooded, have backbones, and are cousins to frogs.

Some salamanders have funny nicknames like 'mud puppy' and 'water dog.' Though they don't look like dogs, most have a tail that looks like they borrowed it from a lizard and skin that looks like it was stolen from a frog.

Salamander with Long Tail and Smooth Skin
Salamander with Long Tail and Smooth Skin

There are around 200 different kinds of salamanders and most are smaller than six inches long, which is half the length of a ruler. There is one that lives in China that grows to almost six feet long, which is about as long as a dining room table!

Where do Salamanders Live?

Salamanders live everywhere except in Australia and Antarctica. If you want to see a salamander in person, North America is the place to do it because it has the most salamanders on Earth. Salamander neighborhoods include ponds, streams, swamps, rivers, and wet forests.

Salamanders swim around in the water when they are young. When they grow up, some live on land, hanging out in the shade where the dirt is moist and there is water nearby. Others love the water so much that they never leave, the way you don't like to get out of the pool when it's time to go home. They all have to keep their skin wet, however, so they don't shrivel up like a raisin and die.

How They Breathe

When you breathe, you use your nose and mouth, but different salamanders have other ways of catching their breath when they grow up. It all depends on what kind of salamander they are and how they live.

Most salamanders hatch out of eggs, like baby chicks. They swim around in the water when they are small, breathing through gills, like fish. But then some change when they grow up.

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