Fire Salamander

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Scientific name: Salamandra salamandra

The basics:
The gorgeous Fire Salamander has much to recommend it as a pet. In addition to being among the world’s largest terrestrial salamanders, it is perhaps the most brilliantly-colored, alert, and responsive of all. It also produces live young and has reached age 50+ in captivity – what more could an amphibian fan ask for?!

The huge natural range extends across much of Europe, from Sweden and Germany to the continent’s southern boundaries, and also includes northern Africa and Iran. Six subspecies, several of which are considered distinct species by some authorities, have been described.

Fire Salamanders inhabit hillside and montane deciduous and coniferous forests.

Appearance / health:
The thick, black body is strikingly-marked with yellow or orange blotches, spots, lines or stripes. Adults reach 7 to nearly 12 inches in length.

Captive longevities of 30+ years are not uncommon, and several individuals have set salamander lifespan records of 50-51 years. Heat stress, and the resulting bacterial and fungal infections, is the most commonly-encountered health concern.

Behavior / temperament:
Fire Salamanders are perhaps most responsive of all amphibians, sometimes being described as “more like turtles than salamanders” by their owners. Pets become active by day and clamber over one-another in hopes of a meal when anyone enters the room.

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 wounds, eyes, or the mouth. Fire Salamanders are unique in being able to project toxins at enemies, although pets rarely if ever do so.

A single adult or pair of Fire 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.

Fire Salamanders do best at 52-65 F, and will remain active at 45 F or lower. They are stressed by sustained temperatures over 72 F. In many locales, they are best housed in cool basements or air-conditioned rooms.

Earthworms and night-crawlers are ideal as the bulk of a Fire Salamander’s diet. Roaches, sow bugs, crickets, locusts, 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 males may be distinguished from females by their smaller size and the swollen area about the cloaca. A cooling-off period of 4-6 weeks at 45 F may spark breeding activity. Females deposit live larvae or, in 2 subspecies, fully-formed little salamanders, in water. The larvae may be raised on live blackworms, chopped earthworms, and frozen bloodworms. Metamorphosis is attained in 2.5-14 months.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


observation, Hearty appetite, interesting pet, cute little creatures, colour changes


captivity, wash hands, aquarium lid, fresh bugs, interaction level


humidity moss, water shallow container, wood logs

Helpful Fire Salamander Review

Fire Salamander

From KeithJ Mar 12 2015 4:42AM


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