Other common names: White-throated Slimy Salamander
Scientific name: Plethodon albagula
The Western Slimy Salamander, attractive but secretive, has been largely ignored by pet-keepers. However, these woodland beauties often adapt well to terrarium life, and are worth consideration by folks with some salamander-keeping experience under their belts.
The Western Slimy Salamander is found from southern Missouri to western Arkansas and northern Oklahoma, USA; an isolated population occurs in south-central Texas.
Primary habitats include moist ravines and depressions within deciduous forests, rock crevices along streams, abandoned mine shafts, and cave entrances.
Appearance / health:
The Western Slimy Salamander’s black body is liberally speckled with white. Adults reach 17 cm (6.8 in) in length.
Captive longevity has not been well documented, but pets have lived for at least 8 years. 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 may remain shy, but some individuals learn to accept food from feeding tongs. They do not, however, take well to disturbances or brightly-lit terrariums.
Western Slimy 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 Western Slimy Salamanders can be kept in a 15 gallon aquarium; larger tanks can support small groups. However, they appear to be territorial, especially when breeding, and so must be watched carefully.
A mix of moist topsoil and sphagnum moss, topped by dead leaves, makes a good substrate. Cork bark rolls or plastic caves serve well as retreats. Live plants will lessen the need for substrate changes. A shallow bowl of chlorine/chloramine free water should always be available. Western Slimy Salamanders do best at 55-70 F, and are stressed by sustained temperatures over 75 F.
Earthworms are ideal as the bulk of a Western Slimy Salamander’s diet. Small roaches, sow bugs, crickets, blackworms, butterworms, calciworms and other commercially-available invertebrates 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.
Captive breeding has not been documented. Wild females guard their 6-20 eggs, which are deposited in sheltered sites on land, and appear to return to the same nest sites each season. Hatchlings skip the aquatic larval stage, and appear as fully-formed replicas of the adults.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
Western Slimy Salamander
Through trial and error, and some Googling, I have learned how best to take care of these little guys.
I don't know if you've ever seen a Western Slimy Salamander, but the first time I saw one, it was in March. I don't remember what I was looking for at the time, but I believe it was worms. Well, the salamander was still hibernating. I had no idea what I'd found, but I thought it was a really cool looking. They are black and shiny, and have white spots or star-like flecks, on them. At any rate, I took him into my house, and thus began my adventure with keeping these little guys.
So here's what I've learned.
It is best to leave them completely alone. They like to hide under things like bark, and don't like to be handled. I have five right now, two large males and three smaller ones, two of which are females, (I think the third may be a juvenile male, because he looks like he is almost as big as the males now) and they are all hidden under some pieces of bark in their house. If you handle them, they will secrete a substance that is very sticky and glue-like, which is their only means of defense. It is really hard to get off of your hands, too. So it's best if you don't handle them at all, because they really don't like it.
It is best that their environment is kept moist. I accomplish this by lifting the bark to check on them on a regular basis. If it looks like their dirt needs to be a bit damper, since they need to stay in damp conditions, I will cover them up again and take one of the gallons of spring water (that is free in my city) and sprinkle it into their home. I learned the hard way that it is not a good idea to keep them in marshy conditions. In the past, I kept three that way, and even though they lived for quite awhile, and they had plenty of food, they eventually died, all at once, and for no apparent reason. So now I just make sure that they have moist dirt under their bark.
Feeding them literally takes no effort on my part on a day-to-day basis, in that I established a worm colony in their home, and so they get their food from their home. Very easy and very handy. They also like pill bugs, also known as the woodlouse. These are easily caught in one's garden.
Now, as for habitat. What I did for my most recent habitat is this. I took a ten gallon aquarium and put enough dirt in it to fill it about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way. This does make it heavy, but one needs quite a bit of dirt in order to establish a worm colony. The dirt is mounded higher and deeper at one end, and shallower at the other end. Then I went out to my garden and looked under the bricks. It had rained quite a bit that month, so I was able to catch a lot of worms. After I put the dirt in the aquarium, I put the worms in. They quickly burrowed into the dirt. I also put in a lot of dead leaves, since this is their food of choice. Then I put in some nice pieces of bark I'd found several years ago, at the end where the dirt is shallower. And the house was ready for the salamanders. I put them in there, and they hid under the bark, and have stayed there ever since.
I enjoy keeping these little guys as pets because I like their personalities. They like to be left alone and are content to hide under their bark and eat their worms. Not only that, I think that they are quite an attractive looking salamander, with their shiny skin with those white spots. The only negative that I can see to owning them is the fact that they secrete slime if you touch them, but, since they don't like or want to be touched, anyway, and that's not the main reason for owning one, I don't view that as a drawback. So if you want to own a salamander that is very easy to take care of once you've set up a suitable habitat, and you're a critter lover like me, I highly recommend this cool-looking little salamander..
From Casingda Jul 25 2015 9:47PM