Tiger Salamander Care

Tiger salamander; © Gerald Deboer | Dreamstime.com

Tiger salamaders are one of North America's largest land salamanders, but they are fairly easy to keep in captivity, which makes them a popular small pet. Learn about the special care they need.

Keeping Tiger Salamanders as Pets

Housing

According to Animal Planet, Tiger salamanders require a vivarium. A vivarium has both land and water areas inside an aquarium. This most closely emulates the habitat this salamander experiences in the wild. Some tips for setting up your vivarium include:

  • Use a 10 to 15-gallon acquarium for a single salamander.
  • Cover the aquarium with a wire mesh cover for ventillation.
  • Add aquarium gravel that is just a little larger than the salamander's head to keep it from eating the rocks.
  • Add a place to hide, such as a small hollow log or clay flower pot.
  • Provide water source that is deep enough for the salamander to immerse its entire body.
  • Provide a way to get in and out of water easily, such as a small ramp.

Temperature and Humidity

The vivarium should be kept at:

  • Temperature - About 69 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit maximum during the day and cooler at night
  • Humidity - About 70 percent; mist the cage and salamander with water throughout the day.

Since this species prefers cooler temperatures, a heati source is probably not needed. An ultraviolet light is not recommended since it may make the environment too hot. This species also secretes a lot of waste, so the water should be changed every few day.

Handling

The skin of these salamanders is soft and sensitive even to substances on your hands. They do not like to be handled, so keep it to a minimum. If you must pick up your pet to clean his cage, gently scoop him up from underneath with both hands and fully support the entire length of his body.

Feeding

National Geographic indicates that this salamander is a carnivore and only eats meat in the form of insects, worms, frogs and sometimes other salamanders. In captivity, you can feed them:

  • Earthworms
  • Wax worms
  • Small snails
  • Insects

This diet is similar that of the bearded dragon, although tiger salamanders tend to eat less. These food sources should be dusted every few feedings with calcium powder and vitamins which are available at your local pet supply store.

To feed the salamander:

  • Use small metal forceps to pick up the insect or worm.
  • Hold the insect about two inches in front of the salamander's nose
  • When he bites the food, release it

These salamanders do have small teeth, although they shouldn't be able to break your skin. However, it is best to offer food with the method listed above, especially since the salamander's skin is soft and they should not be handled. Once they are adults, they should only be fed every two to three days.

About Tiger Salamanders

Appearance

Tiger Salamanders can grow as long as 14 inches, but they typically average around eight inches long. They have a broad, stocky appearance, a long tail and a short, blunt snout. They are usually brown with bold yellow stripes or patches, which makes them very attractive pets.

Origin

According to Animal Planet, this species of salamander is one of the most common in North America. It can be found all across the United States and in parts of Canada and Mexico. Tiger salamanders are land dwellers that live near lakes, ponds and streams. They burrow into the ground as deep as two feet. In the wild, they emerge at night to feed.

Personality

Tiger salamanders are fairly shy. However, they are also curious and will learn to approach you during feeding time. Over the years, some do become quite friendly with their owners.

Life Expectancy

Tiger salamanders have a life expectancy of between 10 and 16 years in the wild, according to National Geographic. However, your pet's lifespan largely depends on how well you care for it.

Is This Pet Right for You?

If the sound of barking bothers you and you don't like finding fur or feathers around the house, tiger salamanders make quiet, docile and interesting pets. They are ideal for apartment dwellers and people who lead busy lives.

Tiger Salamander Care