|Official Name||Effhlekh Salamander|
|Common Nicknames||Soulmanders, Oasis Runners|
The Effhlekh Salamander is a mysterious jewel of Farah’deen, an amphibian that makes it’s home in desert-covered lands with little water, and an animal that is of particular fascination to Qadir-Almae engineers. This salamander makes its home in the oases and on the coasts of Farah’deen, though the scarcity of water and its inhospitable habitat have begun to wear down its population. Documented even before the Great Storm, this amphibian has been a part of Farah’deen’s history for centuries. One of the most interesting parts about this salamander is it’s color-shifting skin in the presence of high concentrations of Binral Essence, a trait that has surrounded species in superstition. Despite the population decline in the wild, the Effhlekh Salamander remains a mysterious link to the past and is often now found in captivity as an exotic pet.
The first records of the Effhlekh Salamander are documented around 145 AC, though it has been thought that the species was cited even before the Great Storm, the records that held it’s ancient past were destroyed by the Songaskians. With this came the giant sandstorms that are thought to have greatly diminished the salamander’s numbers. Since the white-haired devils came from the sand and dust, the Effhlekh Salamander population have been slowly declining from the now rough environment they made their homes in, that being the oases and coasts of Farah’deen. Recently, the species have seen an increase in population due to breeding in captivity, and can often be found in the Hadritya of the Qadir-Almae.
Effhlekh Salamanders are versatile in appearance, ranging from four to eight inches in length with a tail that is almost always an inch shorter than their bodies. They have a diamond-shaped skull with a mouth that stretches along the top half of their head, accompanied by amber lidless eyes that sit on top of their cranium. Despite variations in color, all of these salamanders have several dark brown dots, about the size of a nailhead, that sparsely speckle their smooth skin. Their legs and webbed toes are built for speed, be it in water or on land, and will often use lightning-quick skittering or bursts of speed to catch prey or escape predators. These semi-aquatic salamanders are largely nocturnal and hunt for their diet of insects and small water-dwelling organisms during the late hours of the night. All Effhlekh Salamanders have a special sensory organ that will make their skin change to a stark white color when in the presence of high concentrations of Binral Eccense.
The salamander comes in two main varieties, based on whether it’s found on the coast or in an oasis. Coastal Effhlekh Salamanders are larger than their oasis-dwelling counterparts, and are more adapted to running about as they have larger feet. These ones are generally hardier when it comes to fending off predators and changes in climate, mainly in the water they reside in, identified by their murky blue and green skin, and are the most common variety. Oasis Effhlekh Salamanders are often identified by their sandy brown or beige tones, and have adapted moreso to the dangers of being surrounded by sand. Their skin is not only thicker to help against the threat of heat and sandstorms, but is also better at absorbing and retaining water.
There seems to be an even distribution of males and females within the species, as there are no obvious or foolproof ways to identify males over females. It is speculated that females tend to have more brown spots on their skin than males, but males have been found with many brown spots before so it’s not a reliable identification method. The only real difference is their reproductive organs, but that involves examination beyond a cursory glance.
Life Span and Development
Effhlekh Salamanders live for a surprising amount of time, up to 20 years for males and 18 for females, though scarcely live that long in the wild due to environmental hazards. These salamanders mate once a year for 2 weeks, usually between the months of January and February, during which the salamanders are very active and can often be found in the water. During the mating season, female salamanders will first lay their batch of eggs in a safe place underwater, be it behind a rock or in an alcove, and will then secrete a special pheromone to attract males to the eggs’ hiding place.
The females then stand guard over their eggs, overtly aggressive to any passing threats, while the males will come by to fertilize the eggs and then stand guard with the females while the eggs develop. After three weeks, the tadpoles will hatch and be less than an inch long and have gills, surviving off of eating insects near the area in which they were born. Three to four months from hatching, the tadpoles will officially become juveniles and grow a set of legs as well as a now elongated tail. After a further nine to ten months, the now fully mature salamanders develop lungs while retaining their gills, letting them take their first steps on land and their last steps to maturity.
These salamanders are not overly vicious, quite the opposite as they are more skittish than anything else, barring salamanders that are guarding their eggs after mating season. They will quickly try to make an escape if any threat is perceived nearby and show great skill in finding hiding places, aided by their partially camouflaging skin tones. They can be domesticated, though it’s often difficult to catch one of these salamanders by hand, let alone spot one out in the open during the day. Most have opted to trap these salamanders if they’re keen on obtaining one, leading to some ridiculous clockwork salamander trap designs by the Qadir-Almae. Once caught, Effhlekh Salamanders must be kept in a habitat resembling the one they were taken from and given clean water to swim in. They must be handled with care and preferably with gloves, as touching an Effhlekh Salamander for extended amounts of time seems to drastically shorten their lifespan. Though, after proper acclimation, these salamanders become calm around handlers and have even shown signs of depression if their handlers leave them for days on end. Overall, they’re high maintenance pets, but amiable.
Territory and Groupings
These salamanders are not particularly territorial or cooperative, instead focusing on protecting and hiding themselves from the elements and predators at all times except during the mating season. They stay in the same general area where they were born, though riptide currents can sometimes displace coastal tadpoles.
- Many Qadir-Almae consider it extremely taboo to kill an Effhlekh Salamander, while the Songaskia find them to be nuisances to be exterminated like rats. This is yet another point of conflict between the two desert dwelling races.