Posted Jul 25, 2015
Through trial and error, and some Googling, I have learned how best to take care of these little guys.
I don't know if you've ever seen a Western Slimy Salamander, but the first time I saw one, it was in March. I don't remember what I was looking for at the time, but I believe it was worms. Well, the salamander was still hibernating. I had no idea what I'd found, but I thought it was a really cool looking. They are black and shiny, and have white spots or star-like flecks, on them. At any rate, I took him into my house, and thus began my adventure with keeping these little guys.
So here's what I've learned.
It is best to leave them completely alone. They like to hide under things like bark, and don't like to be handled. I have five right now, two large males and three smaller ones, two of which are females, (I think the third may be a juvenile male, because he looks like he is almost as big as the males now) and they are all hidden under some pieces of bark in their house. If you handle them, they will secrete a substance that is very sticky and glue-like, which is their only means of defense. It is really hard to get off of your hands, too. So it's best if you don't handle them at all, because they really don't like it.
It is best that their environment is kept moist. I accomplish this by lifting the bark to check on them on a regular basis. If it looks like their dirt needs to be a bit damper, since they need to stay in damp conditions, I will cover them up again and take one of the gallons of spring water (that is free in my city) and sprinkle it into their home. I learned the hard way that it is not a good idea to keep them in marshy conditions. In the past, I kept three that way, and even though they lived for quite awhile, and they had plenty of food, they eventually died, all at once, and for no apparent reason. So now I just make sure that they have moist dirt under their bark.
Feeding them literally takes no effort on my part on a day-to-day basis, in that I established a worm colony in their home, and so they get their food from their home. Very easy and very handy. They also like pill bugs, also known as the woodlouse. These are easily caught in one's garden.
Now, as for habitat. What I did for my most recent habitat is this. I took a ten gallon aquarium and put enough dirt in it to fill it about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way. This does make it heavy, but one needs quite a bit of dirt in order to establish a worm colony. The dirt is mounded higher and deeper at one end, and shallower at the other end. Then I went out to my garden and looked under the bricks. It had rained quite a bit that month, so I was able to catch a lot of worms. After I put the dirt in the aquarium, I put the worms in. They quickly burrowed into the dirt. I also put in a lot of dead leaves, since this is their food of choice. Then I put in some nice pieces of bark I'd found several years ago, at the end where the dirt is shallower. And the house was ready for the salamanders. I put them in there, and they hid under the bark, and have stayed there ever since.
I enjoy keeping these little guys as pets because I like their personalities. They like to be left alone and are content to hide under their bark and eat their worms. Not only that, I think that they are quite an attractive looking salamander, with their shiny skin with those white spots. The only negative that I can see to owning them is the fact that they secrete slime if you touch them, but, since they don't like or want to be touched, anyway, and that's not the main reason for owning one, I don't view that as a drawback. So if you want to own a salamander that is very easy to take care of once you've set up a suitable habitat, and you're a critter lover like me, I highly recommend this cool-looking little salamander.