* Japanese name: Buchi-sansho-uo
* Scientific name: Hynobius naevius
* Description: This is a lizard-like animal growing from 8 to 15 cm long, including the tail. Also known as the blotched or spotted salamander, it is dark brown with a purple tinge, and has blotches of silver and white spots over its glistening wet body. The spots tend to be larger on the flanks and tail and smaller on the head. However, the markings of this salamander appear to vary depending on its location, and sometimes the blotches may be yellow — indeed, there may occasionally be none at all. Adults have something of an embryonic appearance, with their rounded shape, softness and their thick, short legs.
* Where to find them: In forested, mountainous regions across Kyushu and Shikoku, and from central to western Honshu. The buchi salamander can be found in any type of forest, either deciduous or coniferous. During the day it lives under logs and rocks, and at night and on rainy days it forages. This amphibian breeds in mountain springs and streams, and females lay eggs in egg sacs in parts of the stream where the current is not strong.
* Food: These animals will eat small invertebrates, insects such as crickets, grasshoppers and beetles, as well as worms and spiders — juicy creatures that live and lurk in among leaf litter. The juvenile animals, the larvae, are also partial to tadpoles and insect larvae.
* Special features: Salamanders are primitive amphibians, being less specialized for life on the land than are frogs or toads. This is why they only tend to be active at night, or when it’s raining. They have chemical weapons in case of attack, however, releasing a foul-smelling substance if they are disturbed. Males, like other amphibians, don’t have a penis. During the breeding season the male’s tail turns blue. If courtship is successful, the male produces a bag of sperm and the female draws it into her body. She then produces a pair of spiral egg sacs, each containing up to 36 eggs. The envelope of the sacs is transparent and tough, and protects the embryonic young as they develop. Salamanders have their DNA arranged in far more chromosomes than mammals.
PHOTO COURTESY OF BIO-IMAGE NET