Male and female salamanders look the same. Their genders aren't easy to identify, particularly because their genitals are not visible. To identify the gender accurately, it’s essential to use a variety of factors before coming to a conclusion. In many cases, salamander gender differences are subtle, and some are temporary.
Identify the Breed
Different breeds of salamander have different features that distinguish gender. For example, male siren salamanders' heads have two large lumps of muscle, but the females' don’t. Without knowing which breed-specific features to look for, you’ll struggle to accurately determine the sex of your salamander. The best way to identify the breed is to examine the patterns and coloration on the skin. Often, the breed is named for the pattern of the skin, for example tiger, spotted or marbled. Once you’ve identified the breed, you can zero in on the telltale signs of gender.
Two general rules can help you identify the sex of any caudate, or member of tthe genus to which salamanders belong. Females tend to be larger, with fuller bodies; males typically have larger cloaca, or openings on the underside of the body that serve reproduction. This cloaca rule stands for tiger, marbled and spotted salamanders -- but because salamanders can become obese in captivity, males can often be mistaken for females.
By carefully handling the salamander, you can glean further information about its sex. Examine the lips; redback males tend to have larger, more pronounced lips. Look for glands under the chin, these are prominent only on males of certain species.
If you have another salamander of which you know the gender, compare it to the other salamander. If it is noticeably slimmer but otherwise of an equal length and width, it is most likely a male.
Wait for Breeding Season
The gender differences are most apparent during breeding season. For example, some males have visible hairs around the cloaca when they are ready to mate. in the wild, breeding season occurs once, typically toward the end of summer. If the cloaca of your salamander becomes enlarged once a year, it is probably a male.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.