Two Toed Amphiuma

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Scientific name: Amphiuma means

The basics:
The Two Toed Amphiuma is an eel-like salamander which is native to the eastern United States, from the coastal plains of Virginia down to the tip of Florida. Much like its close relatives, it hides during the day in the muddy or sandy bottom of bodies of water.

Appearance / health:
The Two Toed Amphiuma is the largest of the three Amphiumas. They can reach up to 46 inches in total length. They have small beady eyes with a single gill slit on each side of the head. Although they have gill slits, they actually breath by using their lungs and will rise to the top of the water for air. The dorsal surface can be black, gray, or a brownish color. The ventral (bottom) colors are lighter gray or almost white. They have 4 very tiny legs (about 2cm) each with 2 toes, much like the common name suggests. These toes are also how to tell them apart from the other Amphiuma species besides from size difference.

Behavior / temperament:
If startled, the Two Toed Amphiuma will inflict a painful bite. Never try handling them without practicing extreme caution and only do it when necessary. They have been known to be aggressive with each other especially around feeding time.

A single adult specimen can safely live in a 55 gallon or more tank. Juveniles can live in smaller gallon tanks until ready for the permanent tank. A secure lid is a must as they are powerful and have been known to escape.
Water temperatures should never be allowed to go over 75F with the ideal temperature range staying between 60-68F. If room temperature is too warm, a chiller may be needed or ice/cold water can be added to the tank everyday. Substrate can be a mix of sand, mud, and large gravel, or these used singly. Adding fake plants is often a better choice because they tend to disturb them quite easily when they are active. Hides should also be used, and can be in the form of cut PVC pipe, aquarium décor made for fish, driftwood, and other items. Filtration is needed and should be a submersible or outside canister filter. Even with filtration, water changes should be done weekly - up to 20% of water. Monthly a larger portion of water should be changed - up to 50%. All water must be dechlorinated. To dechlorinated the water, leave in large wide open buckets or use chemicals found in pet stores to get rid of it. Spring water may also be used. All filter equipment, along with the lid of the tank, must be completely secure to avoid the Amphiuma from dislodging them.

A varied diet is best for nearly any animal, so offer your Amphiuma different foods including earthworms, black worms, recently molted crayfish, fish, insects (by tong feeding), and even the occasional pinkie mouse. Never try to feed them by hand as they have teeth and can bite.

Amphiumas usually breed from June to July. Females can lay up to 200 eggs in moist cavities which she will guard for the next 5 months until the eggs hatch.

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