Scientific name: Ambystoma tigrinum
The large, strikingly-marked Eastern Tiger Salamander makes one of the most long-lived and responsive of all amphibian pets. Declining in many areas, it deserves attention from experienced amphibian breeders.
The natural range is the largest of any North American salamander, extending from southwestern Manitoba, Canada through Minnesota to east Texas and from Long Island, New York to northern Florida and southeastern Louisiana. Six subspecies, several of which are considered distinct species by some authorities, have been described.
A variety of habitats are occupied, including deciduous and coniferous forests, brushy meadows, wooded grasslands, and farm fringes. Eastern Tiger Salamanders spend most of their lives in self-excavated burrows or those dug by moles and other mammals. An aquatic, cave-dwelling population has been found in New Mexico.
Appearance / health:
This behemoth is the world’s largest terrestrial salamander, with the record length of 33 cm (13 in) and an average length of 15-23 cm ( 6-9 in).
Captive longevities of 25+ years are known. “Red Leg” and other bacterial/fungal infections, caused by poor terrarium hygiene, are the most commonly-encountered health concerns.
Behavior / temperament:
Well-adjusted Eastern Tiger Salamanders are among the boldest and most responsive of all amphibian pets. They quickly learn to associate people with meals, and feed readily from tongs.
They should be handled only when necessary, and then with wet hands so that the skin’s protective mucus is not removed. Salamander skin secretions may cause irritations when transferred to their owner’s wounds, eyes, or the mouth.
A single adult or pair of Eastern Tiger Salamanders can be kept in a 20 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.
Eastern Tiger Salamanders do best at 55-70 F, and are stressed by sustained temperatures over 76 F. Moist retreats should always be available.
Earthworms and night-crawlers are ideal as the bulk of an Eastern Tiger Salamander’s diet. Roaches, sow bugs, crickets, locusts, small crayfish butterworms, horn worms, and other commercially-available invertebrates should also be offered. 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; males in breeding condition exhibit cloacal swelling. A cooling-off period of 6 weeks at 45 F may spark breeding activity. The female’s 350-5,000+ eggs are deposited in jelly-covered masses attached to plants or sunken branches. The larvae hatch in 10-50 days and may be raised on live blackworms, chopped earthworms, and frozen bloodworms. Metamorphosis is attained in 2.5-14 months.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
great eaters, beautiful salamander, cool pet, interesting pets
small child, hiding, smell, sticky poison
underground dwellers, wetland education center
Eastern Tiger Salamander
These are bright colored and fun animals! The tiger salamander makes a great addition to a terrarium. They have aggressive appetites and are fun to feed.
One extra fun benefit to this species is buying them when they are "water dogs" or the larval stage and watching them turn into the adult salamander. Of my newts and salamanders I have owned this species is ranked near the top. Easy to maintain, and large enough to really enjoy..
From Brooktro May 20 2014 6:44PM
Larry the salamander
I got Larry along with his two buddies, Curly and Moe from a lady who didn't want them. We named them after the stooges since there are three of them. We were excited to get them and learn about them however they are not quite the pet for us.
They hide most of the time and hate being held which is fine considering that the oils from our skin can harm them anyway.
At first we had them in just water, similar to a fish tank except only about 3 inches deep. They had a big rock to climb onto and hide under. The water was filtered so it would be clean and safe for them plus they create a lot of waste that must be filtered out.
After doing some research, I found out that they are not fully aquatic, they are semi-aquatic. So, we got them a bigger tank and added dirt from the pet shop and wet it so that it was really moist like a wet sponge. I put flat rocks for them to burrow under. They dig some really long burrows. They eat crickets, roaches, mealworms, earthworms.... just about any insect that can fit into their mouth, they'll eat it! Always buy your insects though, never catch wild ones because they could have traces of poison on them.
They are super easy to take care of if you do the semi-aquatic, moist dirt tank. They don't require expensive lights or anything except bottled water because they breathe through their skin and need clean pure water. They also MUST stay moist or they will die from dehydration. They will live for several years with good proper care..
From Loucisaputo May 6 2015 10:08PM
Interesting but smelly
As a teenager I kept a Tiger Salamander as a pet. I bought him with my money and took the lead in all his care - his name was Slimy.
My favorite thing about Slimy was feeding him. It was absolutely fascinating watching him catch and eat meal worms and crickets. I was so fascinated by his feeding behaviors I often risked over-feeding just so I could see him catch and kill his prey.
My least favorite thing about Slimy was cleaning. He needed an environment with water and land. I found it terribly difficult to maintain a clean environment for him because of the water portion of his environment - also the smell was terrible if I didn't refresh it often. When I did clean his environment I found it exceptionally difficult to get it all the way clean, I couldn't use any soaps because the residues from soap could kill him, so I was forever rinsing the gravel and rocks to try and get all the algae and other debris out.
As fascinating as Slimy was, I would not own another salamander or other amphibian. I do think animals of this type can be great for kids for the scientific value - however I would choose a small snake or a small lizard in the future, it is much easier to keep a dry environment clean!.
From GKierEggleston Feb 14 2014 11:42PM