When it comes to having pets, the list of animals that come to your mind seems endless. One of the recent additions to it is the salamander. If you want to keep salamanders as pets, there are certain things that you need to know.
Salamanders are one of those exotic animals that have caught the imagination of people. Although they look like lizards, which are reptiles, salamanders are actually amphibians. They may range from 1 to 5 feet in length. The larger varieties are rarely a good addition to one’s household. However, the smaller salamanders are quite popular in pet trade. As already said, these are wild animals. So before keeping them as pets, it is important to know their requirements in captivity.
Most of the types of salamanders prefer cool, damp surroundings. However, they are cold blooded animals. Hence, maintaining optimum temperatures is very important for their health. In case you are keeping tiger salamanders in your house, the temperature of the terrarium should be maintained between 65 – 70 °F. For fire salamanders, the temperature should never cross 68 °F.
The enclosure for this animal must be moist, but not soggy. For tiger salamanders and fire salamanders, which are the most common varieties for sale in the US, sphagnum moss, bark chippings, or potting compost will make good substrate. Ensure that the terrarium for the tiger or fire salamanders have hiding places. Also include a dish of water in the enclosure and mist the tank regularly. You need to ensure that the tank is not very wet, as they are prone to infections caused by bacteria and fungus.
In case you want to keep an average-sized pair of either species, the tank should be at 24×16×18 inches (60×40×45 cm) large. This actually varies according to the size of the species. Make sure that the terrarium has a secure lid, as salamanders are renowned escape artists. You need to maintain humidity in the terrarium and at the same time, keep an eye out for growth of mold in the tank.
Tiger salamanders have a good appetite. They also excrete a good amount waste material. Therefore, the tank needs to be cleaned regularly. Along with seeing to the requirement of humidity, ensure that the tank has good ventilation so that the environment in the enclosure does not become foul.
Salamanders are not fussy eaters. Both, tiger and fire salamanders have a healthy appetite. They are carnivores. In the wild, their food is quite varied. In captivity, you can feed them pillbugs, beetles, earthworms, woodlice, slugs, small moths, crickets, and meal worms. On the other hand, if you are keeping aquatic salamanders, you can feed them water invertebrates such as water fleas, brine shrimp, and Daphnia.
Most salamanders are nocturnal, and hence, feeding them at night would be the best way to help them stick to their natural feeding habits. Also, they respond best to foods that move, so feeding them live prey will be ideal. Like already said, cleanliness is the most important aspect of proper care of salamanders. Hence, ensure that uneaten food and droppings are regularly removed from the tank.
Though they do make good pets, salamanders are not the petting kinds. It is not that they will snap and bite, but they have delicate and sensitive skin. Oils and salts from your hands may contaminate their skin and cause infections. Also, some types secrete certain toxins that may cause skin irritation. Use a fish net to handle them.
In case you HAVE to touch them, wash your hands with soap and warm water. Make sure that there is no residue of soap left on your hands. Then clean your hands again thoroughly after you have put your pet back in its tank.
Keeping salamanders as pets can be a good experience. However, one should consider the pros and cons of the same. Complete knowledge about the pet’s habits, habitat, and requirements is indispensable.