Posted Mar 30, 2016
It's stupid how much I love this little Salamander.
Miles Davis walked up our Porch with a confident strut on a cool autumn evening. We caught him mostly to avoid having a cat get to him first. After a little research, we came up with a decent tank for him and he settled in nicely.
He's out most of the day, hanging out in his water dish. Salamanders aren't the most lively creatures and are pretty content to do nothing unless they see food. The only tough part about owning a Salamander I suppose is taking care of the crickets. Live crickets need their own food/water gel/enclosure that is kind of a pain, which is the only reason I marked Salamanders as difficult to feed. In terms of their own appetite, you have to be careful not to overdo it or they'll get obese.
You can't really handle salamanders as the oils in your fingers can irritate their skin, but Miles will come up to the side of the tank and "greet" me when I come to feed him. He eats live crickets and watching him hunt is always interesting. They're pretty interactive with the outside world and seem to recognize animals moving around outside their tank. You can't hold or touch them much, but they're cool little creatures that seem aware you exist, unlike the snakes I owned in the past. Having a Salamander feels a bit like owning a tiny alien.
Get an above ground dish for the water portion of the enclosure; it will save you a ton of time with cleaning. You'll also need moist dirt and a place they can hide and feel comfortable. I live in a pretty dry state so I got a humidifier for him, but depending on where you are, that may not be necessary. Salamanders don't require any fancy lights or heat setups, and all in all Miles seems pretty robust. I'm not sure how old he was when I found him, but I've yet to have any health problems with him.
You have to clean the cage somewhat frequently given their tendency to smell, which can also lead to your Salamander escaping. For such a typically lazy critter, they get very curious about exploring the outside world when given a chance.
I took care of Miles for several years personally, but now he lives with my nephew, and he's still doing quite well. He's also proving to be a good, relatively low maintenance pet for a kid that teaches responsibility given the cleaning/cricket care.