Mature salamanders generally have a basal tetrapod body form with a cylindrical trunk, four limbs and a long tail. The skin may be drab or brightly colored, exhibiting various patterns of stripes, bars, spots, blotches or dots. Male newts become dramatically colored during the breeding season.
Salamanders range in size from the minute salamanders, with a total length of 2.7 centimetres (1.1 in), including the tail, to the Chinese giant salamander which reaches 1.8 metres (5.9 ft) and weighs up to 65 kg (140 lb). Most, however, are between 10 centimetres (3.9 in) and 20 centimetres (7.9 in) in length.
Terrestrial salamanders catch their prey by rapidly extending a sticky tongue which adheres to the prey, allowing it to be pulled into the mouth. In the lungless salamanders, muscles surrounding the hyoid bone contract to create pressure and actually "shoot" the hyoid bone out of the mouth along with the tongue. The tip of the tongue is composed of a mucus which creates a sticky end to which the prey is captured.
To find their prey, salamanders use trichromatic color vision extending into the ultraviolet range, based on three photoreceptor types that are maximally sensitive around 450 nm, 500 nm and 570 nm.
Some salamander species use tail autotomy to escape predators. The tail will drop off and wriggle around for a little while, and the salamanders will either run away or stay still enough to not be noticed while the predator is distracted. They can also produce a white milky substance that is... [continues]
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