Other common names: Banded Salamander
Scientific name: Ambystoma opacum
The basics: One of North America’s handsomest amphibians, the Marbled Salamander spends most of its life below-ground, and is often overlooked by pet-keepers. However, captives soon give up their secretive ways and, with proper care, have reached age 15+.
The Marbled Salamander is found over much of the eastern and central USA, from southern New Hampshire south to Texas and northern Florida.
Marbled salamanders spend most of their lives in self-excavated burrows or those dug by small mammals, and are most commonly found in deciduous or mixed pine forests on sandy soil.
Appearance / health:
The Marbled Salamander varies in length from 9-10.7 cm (3.5-4.2 in). It is stoutly built, with a black body marked by broad, bold bands of white or silvery gray.
Well-cared-for pets may reach 15+ years of age. If the terrarium’s substrate or water becomes fouled with ammonia from waste products, “Red Leg” and other bacterial/fungal infections will take hold.
Behavior / temperament:
Well-adjusted pets often forsake their burrowing habits and often learn to accept food offered by feeding tongs.
Marbled Salamanders should be handled only when necessary, and then with wet hands so that the skin’s protective mucus is not removed. Their skin secretions may cause irritations when transferred to their owner’s wounds, eyes, or the mouth.
A pair of Marbled Salamanders can be kept in a 10 gallon aquarium; larger tanks can support small groups.
Moist sphagnum, carpet moss, or terrarium liners make good substrates, and cork bark rolls or plastic caves serve well as retreats. They will establish permanent burrows if provided a deep mix of topsoil and sphagnum moss. Live plants will lessen the need for substrate changes. A shallow bowl of chlorine/chloramine free water should always be available.
Marbled Salamanders do best at 55-70 F, and are stressed by sustained temperatures over 76 F. Humidity should be maintained at 75-85%.
Small roaches, earthworms, sow bugs, crickets, blackworms, butterworms, calciworms and other commercially-available insects will be readily accepted. Mealworms have been implicated in digestive system disorders, and should be avoided.
Most meals should be coated with a powdered Calcium/Vitamin D3 supplement. A vitamin/mineral supplement should be used 2-3x weekly.
Mature females may be distinguished from males by their larger size and gray or silver, as opposed to white, body bands. A cooling-off period of 6 weeks at 45 F may spark breeding activity. Marbled Salamanders mate on land, after which the female curls about her 30-100 eggs for 3-4 months (in the wild, captive breeding is rare) until spring rains wash the eggs into temporary ponds. The larvae may be raised on live brine shrimp, chopped blackworms, and frozen bloodworms.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
starter, room temp, teenager
crickets, old aquarium, fairly long life
Relaxed, but Fun to Play With
It is almost a classic for a teenage boy to own some sort of salamander, am I right?
Haha either way, my salamander (Joey) was a pretty chill salamander, but liked to hide inside of his little house, but would come out if I rustled things outside in his glass box.
I really liked having him as a starter because he was easy to clean up after, did not take to much money to take care of, and was really chill.
I suggest getting a salamander if you don't know what kind of animal you want, because it will teach you how to take care of an animal, and won't cost a lot of money to do so.
I got my salamander from a buddy for $15 in 2008, and it was pretty cool to have him, but as a teenager I got bored, so I ended up selling him to someone on craigslist. haha
Either way, work checking out!.
From Kevers003 Feb 20 2014 2:04AM
Sally the Salamander
One day, I saw a little tiny mud puppy hanging out in a goldfish tank at a pet shop and decided I wanted to have it, instead of letting the store owner kill it. He gave it to me for 50 cents and I put it in an old aquarium, set up with rocks on one side and a good pond of water, since Sally the salamander still had fluffy gills. When he grew up, he was a good pet, though, of course, being an amphibian, not the best “cuddling” pet, and when you held him he just wanted to explore and run around. He was very entertaining to watch – how he caught and ate crickets, when he would run around the cage, and watching him swim were some of my favorite salamander antics. Sally lived a good and fairly long life for an amphibian, and he was a very fun addition to the family..
From gilliansochor May 7 2014 11:14AM
Too wild to be a pet
My marbled salamander was fun to have, but he was a little bit too skittish to be locked in a tank. He didn't like being handled - he just wanted to get on the ground and run. I was worried, many times, that my cat would eat him!
Habitatwise, he was similar to many other reptiles, but very, very energetic. All the energy could not be contained in such a small tank, and he was constantly trying to get out. I felt like i was locking a prisoner..
From Calla May 15 2014 9:39PM