Eastern Tiger Salamander

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Scientific name: Ambystoma tigrinum

The basics:
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 Health Tip

Eastern Tiger Salamander

From Loucisaputo May 6 2015 10:08PM


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