Salamanders as Pets
By Debopriya Bose [You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]
When it comes to having pets, the list seems endless. One of the recent additions to it is keeping salamanders as pets. If you want to join the list of pet owners with some exotic creatures in their homes, there are certain things that you need to know. This article gives a generalized view of the requirements of salamanders as pets.
Salamanders are one of those animals of the wild that have caught the imagination of people, as one of the most exotic pets of the present times. Although they look like lizards, which are reptiles, salamanders are actually amphibians. They may range from 1 inch to 5 feet in length. The large varieties are rarely a good addition to one's household. However, the smaller salamanders as pets, are quite popular. As already said, these are wild animals belonging to almost 500 species. So before keeping salamanders as pets, it is important to know which variety are you buying and its requirements when kept in captivity.Housing Salamanders as Pets
Most of the types of salamanders prefer cool, damp surroundings. However, salamanders are cold blooded animals. Hence maintaining optimum temperatures is very important for your pet's health. In case you are keeping tiger salamanders as pets, the temperature of the terrarium should be maintained between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. For fire salamanders, the temperature should never cross 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
The enclosure for salamanders must be moist. However, it should not be soggy. For the tiger salamanders and fire salamanders, which are the most common varieties for sale in the US, sphagnum moss, bark chippings or potting compost are suitable options for the floor covering of salamander terrarium. Ensure that the terrarium for the tiger or the fire salamanders have hiding places. Also include a dish of water in the enclosure and mist the tank regularly. However, ensure that the tank is not very wet as salamanders are prone to infections caused by bacteria and fungus.
In case you want to keep a pair of either amphibian types, of average size, the tank should be at 24 x 16 x 18 inches (60x40x45cm) large, (however this actually varies according to the size of the animals). Make sure that the terrarium has a secure lid, as salamanders are renowned escape artists. As one needs to maintain humidity in the terrarium, the pet owner also needs to keep an eye out, for growth of mold in the tank. Tiger salamanders have a good appetite. Hence they also excrete a good amount waste material. Therefore the tank needs to be cleaned regularly. Along with seeing to the requirement of humidity, ensure that the tank has good ventilation so that the environment in the enclosure does not become foul.Feeding Salamanders as Pets
Wondering about pet food for salamanders? Well then the good news is that neither the fire salamanders nor the tiger salamanders are fussy eaters. They both have a healthy appetite. Salamanders are carnivores and when in the wild, their foods list is quite varied. You could feed them pillbugs, beetles, earthworms, woodlice, slugs, small moths, crickets and meal worms. However, while keeping aquatic salamanders as pets, a pet owner needs to get water invertebrates like water fleas, brine shrimps and Daphnia. Most salamanders are nocturnal and hence feeding them at night would be the best way to help them stick to their natural feeding habits. Also, salamanders respond best to foods that move. Therefore feed them live prey. Like already said, cleanliness is the most important aspect of proper pet care for keeping salamanders as pets. Hence, ensure that uneaten food and droppings are regularly removed from the tank.Handling Salamanders as Pets
Although they do make good pets, salamanders are not the petting kinds. It is not that they will snap and bite, but they have delicate and sensitive skin. Oils and salts from our hands may contaminate their skin and cause infections. Also, some types secrete certain toxins that may cause skin irritation to their human owners. Use a fish net to handle them. In case you HAVE to touch them, wash your hands with soap and warm water. Make sure that there aren't any residues of soap left on your hands. Then clean your hands again thoroughly after you have put your pet back in it's tank.
Keeping salamanders as pets could be good experience for some. But one should consider the pros and cons for wild animals as pets before considering one. Complete knowledge about the pet's habit and habitat and its requirements when kept in captivity, are indispensable aspects of keeping wild salamanders as pets.