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Lesser Siren

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Scientific name: Siren intermedia

The basics:
The Lesser Siren is an eel-like salamander which can be found all over North America, from the coastal plains of Virginia and Florida, to the Mississippi Valley, Texas and northern Mexico. They have also been seen as far north as Michigan. They are often found in the sluggish waters of swamps, ditches, and canals. They like lots of aquatic vegetation and muddy or sandy bottoms in which they can easily hide.

Appearance / health:
The only difference between the 3 siren species is their sizes and colors. The Lesser Siren is much smaller than the Greater Siren, and reaches a maximum of 26 inches. Compared to the Dwarf Siren, the Lesser Siren is a bit bigger, with the Dwarf Siren reaching only up to 10 inches. The Lesser Siren has mottled colors of olive, brown, black, and green. Some individuals can have some spotting on the head. They have very short forearms and large external gills for breathing underwater.

Behavior / temperament:
Since Lesser Sirens are not an animal to be held and played with, their temperaments are pretty docile. All Sirens are nocturnal with most activity happening during the evening and night. In the wild, if their water source dries up, they will make a cocoon out of mucous and will bury themselves in the mud where they can remain for months waiting for the water to return.

Housing:
A full grown S. intermedia can live in a minimum 30 gallon tank with larger tanks being preferred. A secure top is needed as they tend to have enough strength to push them open. Younger sirens below adult size may be kept in smaller temporary tanks until big enough to switch to the permanent tank.

They do best with cooler water temperatures between 65-75F. The use of a submersible or canister filter must be used. Avoid using filters that hang on to the outside, as they can escape from the gaps. Substrate can be a mix of sand and large gravel. Hides must be added in the form of cut to length PVC pipes, driftwood, or rocks silicone together to provide shelter. Live plants can be used, but they tend to disrupt the plants while going into their feeding and evening habits. Fake plants make a better choice because they will not get destroyed or ruined by getting moved. As with any aquatic animal, tank maintenance is a must. Remove all uneaten food to avoid spoiling the water. Weekly changes of 10-20% water is good with monthly changes of 50% water. All water used should be dechlorinated either by being sat out for 24hrs or treated with conditioner.

Diet:
As will all animals, feeding a variety of foods is key to keeping them healthy. Offer earthworms, small fish, lean strips of meat, invertebrates such as crickets, waxworms, and others may be used as well. Juveniles can eat smaller items like bloodworms, red worms, and even small snails. If being housed with more than one Siren, they may get aggressive towards each other during feeding time, in which case tong feeding may be needed.

Breeding:
Depending on the location of the captured Sirens, breeding season can be as early as December-March or from March to April. Eggs are deposited in large masses containing 200-700 eggs. Eggs will hatch within 3 months. However, captive breedings have rarely been recorded.

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