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Tiger Salamander

Ambystoma tigrinum

  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Adult Size: A large terrestrial salamander that reaches a total length of 13 inches.
  • Range: Tiger salamanders are found coast to coast in the United States. They have been introduced via the fishing industry to several regions in the country. In California, these introductions have resulted in hybridization between non-native and native forms.
  • Habitat: These animals live close to at least semi-permanent water, as their larvae are totally aquatic. These salamanders are found in a wide range of habitats ranging from very low elevations, such as the Florida Panhandle, up to very high elevations (around 12,000 feet) in the Rocky Mountains.
  • Captive Lifespan: 12 to 20 Years
  • Dangerous:
  • Care Level: Beginner

Overview

Adult tiger salamanders are usually blotched with greenish or yellowish bars on a darker background. Some individuals are stunning in their coloration.

Many forms of this salamander, such as the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense) are protected by state laws, and thus require a permit for their captive maintenance. However, there are many that are legal to keep in captivity. In general, these salamanders do very well under captive conditions.

A standard 10 or 20 gallon aquarium makes a good basic enclosure for this large species. Paper towels work well as a substrate because they are easy to monitor for cleanliness. Other substrates that work well are coco coir, peat or green moss or foam rubber. The terra cotta saucers used to catch excess water in indoor plants make an excellent cover item in the enclosure. A notch can easily be filed to allow the tiger salamanders easy entry into such a retreat.

Tiger salamanders are voracious feeders, and can be maintained on crickets, mealworms, silk moth larvae, tomato hornworm larvae, and even the occasional pink mouse. Food items should be dusted once weekly for adults, and at every feeding for the juveniles that are still undergoing periods of rapid growth. Tiger salamanders soon become accustomed to a feeding schedule, and will quickly become tame enough to feed out of the keeper’s hand. Feeding adult tiger salamanders twice weekly will suffice to maintain proper body weight.

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