Spotted Salamander

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Other common names: Yellow Spotted Salamander

Scientific name: Ambystoma maculatum

The basics:
Although among the world’s most strikingly-marked amphibians, and quite hardy, the Spotted Salamander has been largely ignored by pet-keepers. However, these woodland beauties make long-lived, responsive pets, and are worth consideration by folks with a bit of experience under their belts.

The Spotted Salamander is found over much of eastern and central North America, from Nova Scotia and central Ontario, Canada south to Georgia and eastern Texas, USA.

Primary habitats include deciduous forests, meadows near forest edges and, in some locales, woodland patches within suburban areas. Spotted salamanders spend most of their lives in self-excavated burrows or those dug by moles and other mammals.

Appearance / health:
The Spotted Salamander varies in length from 4 ¾ to 9 ¾ inches. It is stoutly built, with a black or slate-colored body marked by irregular rows of pale to brilliant yellow (occasionally orange) spots.

Well-cared-for pets may reach 25+ 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 will use plastic caves or cork bark rolls as shelters. Many learn to accept food offered by feeding tongs.

Spotted 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 Spotted 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.

Spotted Salamanders do best at 55-70 F, and are stressed by sustained temperatures over 76 F. Humidity should be maintained at 75-85%.

Earthworms are ideal as the bulk of a Spotted Salamander’s diet. Small roaches, 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 thicker bodies. A cooling-off period of 6 weeks at 45 F may spark breeding activity. The female’s 50-160 eggs are deposited in jelly-covered masses attached to plants or sunken branches. The larvae hatch in 10-30 days and may be raised on live brine shrimp, chopped blackworms, and frozen bloodworms.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


big appetite, robust salamanders, summer pet, bright yellow spots


secretive, right habitat


bloodworms, unused fish tank, dead leaves, rotten log, small insects

Helpful Spotted Salamander Review

Spotted Salamander

From BhuvanaMcGoats May 27 2015 1:51PM


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