The Tiger Salamander is found across North America near lakes and rivers. In the wild, tiger salamanders are listed as endangered, but in captivity their numbers are booming. With straight forward care requirements, a tiger salamander makes a great pet.
There are three main species of tiger salamander, the eastern tiger salamander, barred tiger salamander and the Arizona tiger salamander along with a couple subspecies. These salamanders can range from 8-12 inches long. Since they are named after their appearance, the tiger salamander is black with blotches or bars of yellow. With proper care they can live up to 10 years old.
Tiger salamanders, like most amphibians, have very sensitive skin so excessive holding should be avoided. The skin is very sensitive to oils, salts, and any lotion residue on your hand may harm them because they absorb liquids through their skin. If you must hold your tiger salamander, make sure your hands are clean and you make it short so dehydration does not occur.
A tiger salamander will eat a variety of insects and worms. Meal worms and crickets can be purchased from most pet stores and work perfectly in feeding your salamander. Place 20 crickets or mealworms in the tank for 15 minutes and remove any extras. This should be done 3-4 times per week. Tiger salamanders can become very obese if you keep giving them more food.
These salamanders are mainly terrestrial and a single adult needs a 10-20 gallon tank. Do not house two males together because they will fight, and if multiple tiger geckos are kept together, purchase a larger enclosure. For this species height will not be used, floor space is the most important.
A substrate of potting soil or sphagnum moss works perfect. If you want to keep the setup simple and easy to clean, paper towels work just as well. Avoid substrates that will be ingested easily or dry out an enclosure like sand or wood chips. Stay away from cedar and pine substrates because they will irritate your tiger salamander's skin.
Two hides should be place in the tank, one on each side. These hides should be dark and secure. A couple pieces of cork bark with a dark damp place to hide is adequate. There are also commercially made coconut halves that provide cover and shelter.
The tiger salamander does not require much heat, room temperature is all they need. During the summer a low wattage bulb can be used to bring the temperature up to 75-80F. Tiger salamanders do not require any special lighting.
A water bowl big enough for your tiger salamander to move around in, but shallow enough to stand in is essential. The water bowl should be kept clean at all times and if you are using a heat bulb, the water bowl should be on the opposite side of the tank. Mist the cage once or twice a week to simulate rain.
Tiger salamander tend to defecate in the water bowl so be sure to keep it clean. Replace paper towels when they are soiled and loose substrates every 2 months or when needed.
Breeding the tiger salamander is not a popular venture in the reptile world yet. If you do plan on breeding them, acquire a couple males and 3-4 females and place them in a 40 gallon tank with a large water dish big enough for 3-4 salamanders. In captivity they will mate during any time of the year. Amphibians do not mate the same way as mammals. First, the female will lay her eggs in the water dish, then the male will fertilize them. Once you are sure this process has happened, remove the water dish from the tank and separate the salamanders. The eggs will hatch into larva.
Young tiger salamanders are called larva or "water dogs" right after they hatch. Larva salamanders have gills and fins and live an entirely aquatic life. Fill a 5 gallon tank with 6 inches of water. Hiding spots and cover should be provided. These can be logs, fake plants, or fish tank accessories. Lava will eat small fish and cut up worms. A filter is an important part of a larva's tank so there is fresh water at all times. Do not heat the water.
Tiger salamanders are easy to care for, look awesome and have good personalities. Even though you cannot hold them, they make up for it with their striking colors. Remember, do your research before buying any pet so that it can live happily and healthily.
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Georgia Stampley - November 25, 2011
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