Great, you’ve decided to adopt a baby salamander! A salamander is an amphibian and is easily recognizable by its slender, lizard-like body, blunt muzzle, and long tail. Most of the species (including water salamanders) have five toes on their rear legs and four on their front legs.
Their length varies from a little more than an inch (2.5 centimeters) to almost 4 feet (122 centimeters). However, most salamander pets are between 5 and 8 inches long. Like other vertebrates, salamanders can reconstruct cut limbs and other body parts. However, unlike grounded vertebrates, salamanders require water to keep their skin moist.
According to Nature Haven, there are around 350 discovered species of salamanders in North America. Salamanders are commonly shy creatures, though unique species like the tiger salamander can recognize their caretaker and even ask for food. You will need to identify the salamander pet species that you have to care for your pet properly. Knowing the exact species will help to determine any special needs it may have beyond the basics.
Salamander Pet: The Basics
Your salamander’s new house should simulate its natural habitat, a moist and damp environment with plenty of places to hide. For a terrarium, opt for acrylic, glass, or plastic 10-gallon habitat; for an aqua-terrarium, opt for a glass habitat.
For a terrarium, provide a water container for it to submerge in, bits of bark for hiding spots. For an aqua-terrarium, divide into water and land areas using a bar, or better yet, add an island or other obstacles to get in and out of the water. Water must be cleaned out regularly.
Temperature and Substrate
Salamanders are comfortable in temperatures between 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure to keep the habitat cool, especially during hotter days—salamanders like moistened sphagnum moss and bits of bark or mulch-type soils such as coconut fiber. Do not put gravel and artificial soil that is too rigid for amphibian skin.
Salamanders are carnivorous, nocturnal creatures, so it’s best to feed them at night. Opt for earthworms, slugs, woodlice, or snails.
Handle your salamander as carefully as possible. Their frail, silky skin cannot stand too much treatment. Always wear latex gloves when treating your salamander; the oil on your skin may harm them. Be careful when handling; all amphibians secrete toxins, do not allow amphibian’s secretions to get in your eyes, mouth, or open wounds.
For Newts, use UVB rays with full-spectrum lighting for 10-12 hours a day. Other species require a 10-12 hour daylight cycle using an incandescent bulb during daytime hours. Make sure to add hiding places so they can hide from light as needed. You may house various Newts together, same for other types of salamanders but do not put different amphibian species in the same habitat.
Thoroughly clean the habitat out every 2 to 3 months with lukewarm water and dish soap (at least once a week for smaller tanks). Avoid chlorine disinfectants as traces of chlorine may harm your pet. Scrub the container as well as the furnishings; wash thoroughly. After that, dry everything thoroughly and put down a clean substrate. Salamanders shed every few weeks, and they usually eat the shed skin, so you don’t need to worry about it.
Indications of a Healthy Animal
- Eats daily; digests properly
- Maintains proper weight
- Healthy, smooth skin, clear eyes
- Distressed breathing
- Skin lesions
- Weight loss
- Skin parasite
- Bloated abdomen
- Poor balance
- Cloudy or dull eyes
Common Health Issues
Gas bubble disease: Bloating, bumps under the skin surface, lack of balance. Treatment: Consult your exotic animal doctor and make sure water is not too aerated.
Metabolic bone disease: Malformations, weak bones, paralysis. Treatment: Consult your exotic animal doctor and add vitamin/calcium supplements to its diet.
Skin problems: Abrasions, bacterial and fungal contaminations. Treatment: Consult your exotic animal doctor.
Wounds: Usually happens when an amphibian is introduced to a new habitat and panics. Treatment: Consult your exotic animal doctor.
Shopping List for Recommended Supplies:
- Water dish
- Under tank heater
- UVB lighting
- Appropriately sized habitat
- The commercial salamander or newt food
- Hideaway place
- Climbing décor
- Vitamin supplement
- Calcium supplement
- Cricket keeper
- Cricket food
- Humidity gauge
- A book about salamanders and newts
Salamanders are beautiful creatures that have grown quite popular over the last few years. They have a fairly extended lifespan and usually become quite docile. These woodlands amphibians make great pets. They can be quite cheerful and engaging under the right conditions. Once you have their habitat fixed up, the care is pretty straightforward. Further reading: