If you are a beginner, a spotted salamander can be a great choice to keep as a pet. These black or dark brown bodied salamanders with yellow or orange spots are visually pretty striking. For keeping this exquisite exotic pet, you should know beforehand how to take care of a spotted salamander.
The care guide of a spotted salamander includes preparing its habitat, feeding guide, handling, breeding care, etc. In this article, you will get a complete-easy guideline on spotted salamander care.
So, if you are planning to keep a pet spotted salamander, you must not miss this article.
Overview Of Spotted Salamander
Before going into the details, let’s take a quick look at the overview of the spotted salamander.
|Scientific Name||Ambystoma maculatum|
|Common Name||Spotted Salamander|
|Toxicity Status||Secrete toxins|
|Lifespan||Up to 20 years|
Sometimes, people remain confused about whether they can keep a salamander as a pet or not. So, you can check this article as to can you keep a salamander as a pet?
Now, let’s go through the list of what a spotted salamander needs to survive.
What Does A Spotted Salamander Need To Survive?
When you bring a spotted salamander to your home, you must ensure to fulfill all of its requirements. To ensure a long accompany from your pet, you have to recreate its natural habitat in captivity. Generally, spotted salamanders can be found in moist and damp places in the wild.
Let’s check out the following conditions that a spotted salamander needs to survive.
Proper Habitation: How Do You Make A Spotted Salamander Habitat?
Since an adult spotted salamander can reach up to 10 inches, you should choose a bigger tank. Generally, a terrarium of 24×12×12 inch dimension is perfect for keeping one spotted salamander.
But, you can choose a terrarium of 36×12×12 inches for your pet salamander’s well-being. In short, the aquarium or terrarium capacity should be around 10-20 gallons when you house a pair of juvenile or adult spotted salamanders.
The larger terrarium will offer ample spaces to roam around, hide, and play in captivity. If you keep multiple salamanders, you will have to pick such a terrarium of increased size.
In nature, you can often find spotted salamanders burrowing underground. Depending on the time of the year, these creatures can be also found in the water for their breeding purpose.
So, you need to create aquatic spaces for the breeding of spotted salamanders, larvae, and tadpoles of spotted salamanders. Otherwise, you should focus on creating a comfortable habitat to burrow.
Substrate For Spotted Salamanders
As spotted salamanders thrive well in damp habitats, you should keep the bedding of the terrarium moist. You must not make the terrarium completely dry.
For this, you need to choose a substrate having much moisture retention. Besides, make sure that the substrate is not harsh to the skin of your pet spotted salamander. Also, you should avoid substrates containing strong odor.
As a substrate, you can use sphagnum moss, coco husk, peat moss, pine bark mulch, mulch type soil, etc.
In the wild, spotted salamanders live under rocks, leaves, logs, etc. These amphibians spend a great time of their lives hiding underground.
So, you should keep the substrate around 3” deep. It will help your pet spotted salamander hide or burrow well in the substrate.
Many experienced owners recommend the following substrates for spotted salamanders. These are-
Lighting For Spotted Salamanders
Because of being subterranean, spotted salamanders typically do not need any lighting. So, usual room lighting is fine for these spotted salamanders in captivity.
Generally, spotted salamanders prefer a cool and damp environment. The ideal range of temperature is around 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit for spotted salamanders.
Hence, spotted salamanders do not require any full-spectrum light.
To fulfill their needs for vitamin D, you can provide UVB lighting. It stimulates the activity and metabolism rate of spotted salamanders.
You can also use an incandescent bulb of low watt or fluorescent lighting. If you keep fluorescent bulbs, these bulbs should not produce any heat.
I recommend checking Zoo Med Mini Compact Fluorescent ReptiSun 5.0.
Optimum Humidity For Spotted Salamanders
Another must-to-follow condition for the survival of spotted salamanders is keeping a moist environment in the terrarium. Spotted salamanders require humidity of around 50%-80%.
So, you need to create such a moist environment with the help of damp substrate and misting. For this, you should spray dechlorinated water in the terrarium daily. Make sure not to make the substrate soggy wet.
In addition, keeping water in a shallow water bowl helps increase the air humidity in the salamander terrarium. Do not choose a deep water bowl as spotted salamanders are not pretty good swimmers. For more information, you can go through this article: Can A Salamander Swim?
You should regularly check the humidity level does not fall below the ideal range. For this, you can keep a digital probe hygrometer to measure the terrarium humidity.
Heat For Spotted Salamanders
As spotted salamanders tend to remain burrowed underground, these pets can thrive in moderate temperatures. But, being cold-blooded animals, these animals require heat within an ideal range.
Make sure that the temperature is not freezing. On the other hand, it should not exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So, you have to apply conventional methods to keep the room temperature within 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you live in a warmer country, you should keep the room cooler during the summer season. Like other animals, you need not keep heating equipment to keep a pet spotted salamander.
Also, you should not keep the salamander terrarium in direct exposure to sunlight. In case your spotted salamander is badly in need of heating equipment, you can install a small heat pad.
Keep the heat pad under a small portion that keeps a specific part of the terrarium warm. As a result, your pet salamander can take shelter in both warm and cool places of the terrarium.
Do Spotted Salamanders Need A Heat Lamp?
Spotted salamanders do not typically need a heat lamp. If the room temperature remains within 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit, your pet spotted salamanders do not require any additional heat from a heat lamp. If you keep a heat lamp, you must ensure not to let the temperature exceed 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
When you keep an animal as a pet in captivity, this is your responsibility to create a naturalistic terrarium. To increase the naturalistic vibe, you can add several décor items to the terrarium of your pet spotted salamander.
As for décor items, you can include live or artificial plants, hollow logs, rocks, hideouts, cork tubes, leaf litter, driftwoods, Mopani wood, natural wood ornaments, etc.
Nutritional Feeding For Spotted Salamanders
Like all living bodies, spotted salamanders require nutritional feeding to survive in captivity. These spotted salamanders are not only insectivores but also voracious eaters. As these salamanders tend to catch prey, you should provide live insects in captivity.
You can feed live earthworms, bloodworms, crickets, slugs, waxworms, nightcrawlers, millipedes, etc. Occasionally, you can provide Dubia feeder roaches, spiders, and pinkie mice.
If you have aquatic salamanders or immature salamanders, you can feed them baby shrimp, minnows, daphnia, and tubifex worms.
You might have noticed that spotted salamanders have small mouths. So, when you feed worms and larger insects, you should chop these foods into smaller pieces.
Besides, you should figure out the number of insects that your pet salamanders are consuming. So, check out the number of leftover insects.
Also, do not forget to remove the leftover foods. You should provide foods to your spotted salamander in sufficient amounts so that these pets can not become obese or underweight.
You can find more information in this article about the salamander diet and feeding guide.
How Often Should You Feed Your Spotted Salamanders?
Sometimes, the beginners become worried when their newly arrived spotted salamander doesn’t eat anything. But, there’s nothing to worry about.
These salamanders may take some time to get adjusted to their new home. After a few days, your pet spotted salamanders may start receiving foods as usual.
In cases of baby and juvenile spotted salamanders, you should feed them daily. Daily feeding is essential for them for their frequent molting and rapid growth.
When your spotted salamanders turn 2-3 months old, you can start feeding these adult salamanders every other day.
These spotted salamanders remain active at night as they are nocturnal. So, you should feed your pet spotted salamanders at nighttime.
Typically, spotted salamanders do not require an additional high dosage of supplementation like other salamanders. You can sprinkle only calcium supplementation over their food in every other feeding.
Also, your pet spotted salamanders do not need the supplementation of multivitamins or vitamin D3. If you want to give a multivitamin or vitamin D3 supplement, you should give these once or twice a week. Make sure to provide them in little amounts.
If you are searching for a good supplementation, you can try Repashy Calcium Plus LoD for your spotted salamanders.
Spotted salamanders have porous skin through which these animals absorb water in their body. You can keep water within a water bowl in the terrarium. Your spotted salamander may soak itself in the water bowl to absorb water.
Also, you should keep the substrate moist. You might notice that your spotted salamander spends a great time over the substrate or burrowing under the substrate.
So, keeping a moist substrate helps your pet salamander fulfill its water needs too. For this, you should mist the tank often.
Now, you must be careful about the water quality. You have to provide chemical-free, dechlorinated water. Hence, you can provide spring water or treated tap water.
Suitable Tank Mates Of Spotted Salamanders
Because of having a docile temperament, you can keep multiple spotted salamanders together. These calm pets do not show any aggression unless they need to compete for food.
Besides, spotted salamanders are one of the smallest breeds of salamanders. So, you can smoothly keep spotted salamanders with non-aggressive fish too.
If you want to keep fish with spotted salamanders, you should make the water part of the tank deep enough for the fish. In such a case, you need to prepare a semi-aquatic tank.
How Do You Take Care For A Pet Spotted Salamander?
Providing all required equipment is not enough to keep your spotted salamander healthy and fit. You should know about handling etiquette, special maintenance during shedding and reproduction, and so on.
So, let’s go through the following list about how to take care of a pet spotted salamander.
Handling Care Of Spotted Salamanders
When you keep a pet spotted salamander, you should know about their handling care beforehand. These exotic pets are not meant for cuddling.
The most concerning fact to remember is that spotted salamanders have absorbing skin.
So, there remain risks of passing the salt, oils, lotion, soap, or harmful chemicals from your hands to their body. It can be fatal to your pet spotted salamanders.
On the other hand, these spotted salamanders secrete toxins when they feel threatened. However, the potency of their toxins may not be harmful to humans.
But, it may cause irritation or allergic reaction if you do not wash your hands afterward.
Can You Touch Yellow Spotted Salamanders?
Without any emergency purposes, you should not touch yellow-spotted salamanders. Touching yellow-spotted salamanders are harmless to humans. But, it can be dangerous for the salamander if you can’t handle it properly.
These yellow-spotted salamanders are immensely fragile. Also, the skin of these salamanders is not only soft but also delicate.
Moreover, when you handle yellow-spotted salamanders, the body temperature of these salamanders rises rapidly from your body temperature. It may cause harm to your pets.
So, you must remain extra careful when you handle yellow-spotted salamanders. Do not forget to make your hands wet before touching these pets.
Also, you should hold these pets gently close to the ground to avoid the risk of making hurt from falling from the grip.
Shedding Care For Spotted Salamanders
As your pet spotted salamander grows, its skin tends to become loosened. Then, the skin gradually falls off into pieces which is termed shedding.
You can also help your pet spotted salamander when it is shedding. Keep the substrate moist as these salamanders tend to spend more time hiding during this time. Also, this will be pretty usual if your pet salamander doesn’t consume any food during the shedding period.
Sometimes, your pet salamander may face trouble in shedding old skin. In maximum cases, the prime reason for trouble shedding is dehydration.
In such cases, you should increase the humidity of the terrarium of your spotted salamander. Make the soil, substrate, and another husbandry moister. Increased moisture may help your pet shed the old skin smoothly.
Otherwise, you have to peel off the retained skin manually. For this, you should wear gloves. Also, make your gloves wet with dechlorinated water. Afterward, you should gently remove the old skin with your fingers.
Reproduction Care For Spotted Salamanders
When you breed spotted salamanders in captivity, you should create a perfect habitation with their required conditions. Besides, you need to fulfill their natural stimuli.
In the wild, spotted salamanders choose water areas like ponds, rivers, streams, or swamps to breed like all salamanders. Hence, you should create a water area in the terrarium of your spotted salamander. Also, the water part should be around 10 inches deep to lay eggs.
Besides, the spring rain stimulates the breeding of spotted salamanders in nature when they come out of the winter hibernation. So, you can recreate the warm spring temperature and spring rainfall by misting. It will boost the hormone levels of spotted salamanders for breeding.
When your pet salamanders lay eggs, you must separate the adult salamanders and the eggs. Otherwise, these salamanders may end up gobbling the eggs.
Maintenance Of Spotted Salamanders
Regular cleanliness and maintenance can keep your pet spotted salamander sound.
- Make sure to keep the tank damp and humid.
- You should install a thermometer and hygrometer to monitor the temperature and humidity respectively. Also, you must ensure not to let the temperature rise beyond 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- As spotted salamanders are pretty fragile, you should handle them gently. Try to avoid touching or handling as much as possible.
- Change the poops and leftover foods over the substrate every day. In short, you should spot clean the tank every day.
- In addition, you should change the substrate every two months.
- Never use any chlorine disinfectant to clean the entire terrarium and its husbandries. Besides, you should avoid using perfumes, fly sprays, deodorants, etc, nearby their terrarium.
- In every 2-3 months, you must clean the salamander terrarium with warm water, soap or detergent. Make sure to remove all soap residues properly. Otherwise, your pet salamander may absorb the soap and get sick.
- If you notice any sign of illness in your spotted salamanders, you must seek professional help from veterinarians.
Can You Keep A Wild Spotted Salamander As A Pet?
It is not a good idea to keep a wild spotted salamander in captivity. If you want to keep a pet salamander, you can choose from captive-bred salamanders.
But, spotted salamanders can readily get tamed. If you have good experience in taking care of salamanders, you can keep a wild spotted salamander as a pet. But, it is better if you get a captive-bred one.
If you are interested to buy a salamander, this article will guide you about pet salamander costs.
It’s possible to achieve a long accompany from your pet spotted salamander. All you need to do is to take good care of your pet and maintain the conditions. I hope this article enlightened you about the care guide for spotted salamanders in detail.