Japanese giant salamanders breed indoors for first time in Japan - ( J44P44NN )

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Japanese giant salamanders have been bred indoors for the first time in Japan, a facility in Shimane Prefecture that works to conserve the huge, river-dwelling amphibians announced.

The Mizuho Hanzake Field Museum said Wednesday a 24-year-old female salamander, named Sachiko, was found that morning to have laid around 500 eggs in an artificial nest inside an indoor display tank.

It said the eggs are thought to have been fertilized because a male salamander, named Daigoro, is still guarding the nest. The males of the species protect the nest until the eggs hatch and the larvae leave.

Japanese giant salamanders, which can reach 1.5 meters in length, enjoy the highest level of governmental protection in the nation. The species was designated as a natural monument in 1952.

But despite their lofty status, giant salamander habitats in Japan remain largely unprotected, except for a few reserves. These habitats have been greatly reduced and fragmented in recent decades due especially to the construction of dams and concrete riverbanks intended for flood and erosion control and irrigation purposes.

The species has been regularly bred in captivity at an outside facility of the Hiroshima City Asa Zoological Park since 1979, but it has never previously been successfully bred indoors in Japan.

The tank in Shimane is located inside the facility, but part of it is exposed to the outside atmosphere and air temperature and it utilizes water drawn from underground sources.