Tiger Salamander Care: Species Overview
- Common Names: Tiger Salamander, Eastern Tiger Salamander
- Scientific Name: Ambystoma tigrinum
- Distribution: Native to North America
- Adult Size: 6 to 8 inches
- Life Expectancy: 10 to 15 years
Tiger Salamanders are beautiful animals and popular exotic pets. They have a reasonably long lifespan and, with time, usually become tame. As pets, they can be lively and entertaining, and under the right conditions, they adapt well to captivity.
They have large eyes, short snouts, thick necks, strong legs, and long tails. Once you have their housing set up, their care instructions are pretty straightforward. Expect to spend time each week on feeding, cleaning, and monitoring the humidity and temperature.
Tiger Salamander Care: Habitat Set-Up
- The larval stage is entirely aquatic so that these Tiger Salamanders can live in an aquarium with 6 inches of water and some rocks for hiding.
- They should be kept between 65 and 70° F, not exceeding 72° F.
- A good water filter is required, and aeration with an air stone is ideal. Make sure to minimize the strength of outflow because these animals do not tolerate strongly flowing water. Monitor the water quality, especially ammonia buildup and the water pH.
- After months to years, the larva will lose its gills and emerge from the water to take on its adult form. As this occurs, gradually reduce the amount of water in the tank and provide a land area.
- The land area should provide an easily accessible island or raised terrain at one end of the tank. The best type of enclosure for adult Tiger Salamanders is a vivarium or aquarium tank.
- The tank will need a secure wire mesh for the lid to allow a free circulation of air. One adult Tiger Salamander will need a 10-gallon tank. Two salamanders require a 20-gallon tank. And most noteworthy, do not house two males together, or they might fight. Tiger Salamanders are often best kept individually.
- When cleaning the tank, only use very hot water and no detergents. Spot clean the tank daily for feces or uneaten food you can remove. And plan to do a full cleaning of the entire environment roughly every two months.
- Tiger Salamanders need temperatures of 50 to 75° F. Temperatures above 80° F can stress a Tiger Salamander.
- Tiger Salamanders prefer a humidity level of around 70%. Maintain this through regular misting, water, and live plants within the tank. Use a hygrometer to monitor the humidity.
- Tiger Salamanders don’t need additional UV lighting like some other amphibians. But be sure you provide your Tiger Salamander with a day-night cycle. That is to say, give 12-hours on light and 12-hours of darkness per day. Use incandescent lighting, preferably on a timer.
- A substrate is a material used on the bottom of your pet’s enclosure. You should get a substrate that retains some moisture but doesn’t become muddy, or dry out. The substrate will increase humidity and allow your Tiger Salamander to burrow. Provide a substrate at least 4″ deep.
- Use a substrate that maintains some moisture and is gentle on a salamander’s skin. For example, organic topsoil free from chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides. Or coconut husk, or sphagnum moss. Coco-fiber is another excellent choice. A mixture of the substrates recommended.
- Gravel is not appropriate, as it’s too rough and doesn’t stay moist. Also, provide plants, bark pieces, smooth rocks, and other organic materials as hiding places.
About the Tiger Salamander
Tiger Salamander Care: Temperament
- Tiger Salamanders are a pleasure to keep as pets. They are beautiful to observe, and they don’t bark late at night. They are larger, hardier, and generally more interactive than other salamanders, which can make them better pets.
- Unlike many other salamanders, Tiger Salamanders are often personable and hardy pets. In time, most Tiger Salamanders will overcome any fear of humans. However, please handle with care, because they have delicate skin.
- Tiger Salamanders are not usually aggressive and can be kept with another salamander, though they do not need the company. But it should be noted, they might consume other Tiger Salamanders, especially when there is a lack of food.
Tiger Salamander Care: Diet and Nutrition
- Tiger Salamanders are carnivores and have a healthy appetite. But they should not be overfed, as they will become obese. They are attracted to prey by its movement and will hunt for food, but they will probably ignore already dead food and food pellets.
- The larva eats aquatic invertebrates, such as brine shrimp, insects, small fish, and worms. Adults eat a selection of feeder insects, such as crickets, earthworms, and wax worms. You can also feed them the occasional pinkie mouse. Feeding should take place one to three times a week to maintain healthy body weight. Feeding your Tiger Salamander can vary based on its size and age.
- Tiger Salamanders may get insufficient calcium and vitamins from the insects, try dusting the live food with calcium and vitamin supplements once a week.
- Provide your Tiger Salamander with a large dish of dechlorinated water. Make sure the bowl is no more than 1 to 2 inches deep, and be prepared, your Tiger Salamander will probably soak in the dish. Therefore, the water should be changed daily, and the bowl kept clean.
- Tiger Salamanders absorb water through their skin, and they need water in the air. Mist the enclosure a few times a week. There is no fixed amount that you should mist, but monitor the substrate, and mist when it looks to be losing moisture.
- If you are using a heat bulb, ensure the water bowl is on the opposite side of the enclosure.
- Use caution when handling pets and remember they may bite or scratch (especially when stressed).
- Supervise children around pets.
- ALL ANIMALS can potentially carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases contagious to humans.
- Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after contact with any pet or its habitat.
- Adults should assist children with handwashing after contact with a pet, its habitat, or aquarium water.