Pleurodeles waltl


The Gallipato (Pleurodeles waltl) is a species of urodel amphibian of the Salamandridae family, like most European urodeles. It is endemic to the Iberian Peninsula and northern Morocco.

In the Valencian Community, the name of this newt comes from the fact that it can be found in cattle troughs and ranchers thought that if an animal swallowed one of these newts, it could drown. It must be said that in folklore it is very common to attribute negative qualities to some animals without any scientific reason..

The gallipato is the largest newt in Europe. It can reach 30 cm in length, of which approximately half correspond to the tail. Compared to other newts, its appearance is very robust. The male is normally smaller and slimmer than the female. Although the skin of adult individuals appears rough and rough, it is smooth to the touch and covered with mucus as in all amphibians. The coloration of the gandarias can vary from dark gray to light gray on the dorsal area, with the ventral area being white. They have a row of red dots on the sides of the body where you can see bumps caused by the tips of the ribs. The head is flat and shovel-shaped.

In the past it was quite common, now the populations have been greatly reduced due to the gradual disappearance of its habitat with the proliferation of urbanizations, highways, golf courses, etc. and also from the abuse of fertilizers and pesticides that contaminate the ditches, ponds, wells, where they live. 

Mating season is during the winter, from October to May, varies locally according to altitude. The females lay eggs in small groups attached to floating objects or aquatic plants. To spawn they choose ditches, cisterns and rafts, preferring clean and deep water. The larvae hatch after about two weeks. They carry external gills and feed preferentially on small crustaceans, such as daphnia. Gallipato larvae can complete metamorphosis in three to five months. There are also individuals that spend much longer periods in the larval stage without ever leaving the water, a phenomenon known as neoteny.

The Gallipato can get used very well to living in an aquarium of dimensions appropriate to its size. It is not known exactly how many years they can live in the natural state, but in captivity there are individuals that have reached fifteen years.

Although they like to live all year round in the water, in cases of emergency, when the raft they used to live on has dried up, the gallipatos can come out on the ground. They can also come out if the humidity conditions are favourable, especially at night or during the rains. They do not like small puddles, where the water gets too hot, or fast-moving water currents. Deep ponds with natural vegetation constitute their ideal habitat. They eat worms, insect larvae and small crustaceans and these animals are usually more active in the afternoon than at midday.

They live at the bottom of ponds or wells, often taking refuge under aquatic vegetation or stones. The main enemy of these animals is the water snake that is often placed in the rafts or cisterns and can swallow an entire adult gallipato.

Habitat of the Gallipato. Enguera Mountain

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