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FAQs About Newts & Salamanders, Amphibians with tails...: Tiger Salamanders

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Ambystoma spp.

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Axolotls, Water Dogs,

Salamander vomiting up its own throat. Help!!!    1/4/12
I possess a morbidly obese yellow spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum).
<Hmm'¦ unusual for amphibians to become "obese" as such; do wonder if there is some other, metabolic, problem at fault.>
He is extremely large, at about eight inches long and three inches wide at this bloated belly.
<Does he feel heavy, or is the bloating soft or watery? In other words, does he feel like he's far (solid) or more like he's got oedema (soft, as if filled with fluid)? Oedema, or "dropsy", is something that is not uncommonly reported among captive Ambystoma. It is most often caused by a systemic bacteria infection, though poor diet can be part of the problem. Treatment will be by antibiotics, ideally injected, and obviously this requires a trip to the vet.>
I have been trying to get him to lose weight over the last five months or so with NO success. Anyways, the other day I woke up to find out that he had literally vomited up his esophagus! I thought he was going to die so I took him all around town to different clinics and no one had any idea what to do.
<You mean veterinarian clinics? Finding one that treats amphibians isn't easy, to be sure. But there are some. You may get useful help here by contacting one of the herpetological clubs in your country. Even a national forum may be worthwhile. Here in the UK, The Amphibian Forum is pretty good:
If you live someplace else, a little time searching for a national club or forum could pay dividends here. If all else fails, universities with herpetological departments may be of help in tracking down suitable vets.>
I felt I had to act fast or lose him, so finally I bit the bullet and shoved his throat back down his mouth. When he figured out what I was doing he stopped struggling and actually swallowed his throat back down. He is looking almost normal today, and seems to be breathing much easier. His throat is still slightly swollen though, and I worry that this may be a symptom of a much bigger problem.
I apologise if this isn't clear, I find it hard to explain. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am very worried that he isn't going to make it. Also, if he turns out to be OK, how do I get him to lose weight?! I'm driving myself crazy!
<Would take this chap to a vet. Do strongly believe that obesity isn't the issue here.>
With great respect,
<Hope this helps. Neale.>
Re: Salamander vomiting up its own throat. Help!!!    1/4/12

I left out something critical! He used to be one of my coworkers pets, and he actually used to be slim with no sign of illness.
She unknowingly put the then skinny salamander in with her green anoles.
<Doesn't sound ideal'¦>
The reason he is so large is that he ate three green anoles in one sitting!
The problem is that he is not losing the weight. Just wondering if that will give you a better idea of what I'm dealing with.
<Well, if he's eaten three lizards, then he'll get thinner once he passes out the faeces. In reality, that shouldn't take long. Salamanders have simple digestive tracts that don't retain food for long, though body temperature will affect that, and if the Salamander is cold, food can "sit" in the gut for a long time. Is the vivarium warmed? Ambystoma spp. are happiest at subtropical temperatures, around 18-20 C/64-68 F, and that applies to both air and water temperature.>
I will be sure to get him to a vet as soon as I can find one... And have you ever heard of a salamander throwing up his insides?
<No, and I doubt that he is "vomiting" his digestive tract up. For a start, only the oesophagus could come up through the mouth, as below that is the stomach, and I assume you haven't seen that! So, we might be seeing some sort of prolapse with the oesophagus coming upwards through the mouth. A prolapse is usually caused by bacterial infection, and with fish at least, a combination of Epsom salt (1 tablespoon per 5 gallons) together with antibiotics can work wonders.>
The part of me that isn't worried is extremely curious. Thank you very much.
<Hope this helps, Neale.>

Tiger Salamanders- longevity  - 10/21/10
I have twelve tiger salamanders- of the western variety-. They are refugees from a friend's bass fishing trip.' Sad but true.' I took them from his bait bucket while they were still wee 'water dogs" and now they are three years old, very large and doing great. So far they have not eaten each other. Their living quarter are quiet roomy. They live in the barn in a soil and straw filled sixteen foot diameter stock tub. I use them in many a school program. They are in the look but don't touch section as there is always a concern for skin bruises and such. My question is, (I have researched but haven't found the answer as of yet), how long will they survive if taken care of properly in captivity? They are fed on earth worms, crickets, wax worm and horn worms and chopped tilapia about three times a week. Thanks Bob
<Hello Bob. The lifespan of Tiger Salamanders, as with most cold-blooded animals, will depend on both average temperature and the length and coolness of their winter climate. In the wild at least, where they enjoy warm summers but cool winters, lifespan can be upwards of 15 years.
Specimens kept uniformly warm all year around (i.e., about 22 C/72 F) don't live as long, and vivarium specimens may only live for 10-12 years. If you can arrange things so their vivarium drops to around 15 C/59 F for a month or two in winter, so much the better, and your salamanders will live that bit longer. Hope this helps. Cheers, Neale.>

Question about two tiger salamanders... sys., comp.   9/27/09
I have two tiger salamanders, a female and male, Now I they are in a 80 gal tank and we are making them a terrarium.
<These are semi-aquatic amphibians, and swimming space with clean, filtered water is rather important.>
I was wondering what type of plants can I put in there with them.
<Underwater, most any aquatic plant would work, though I'd recommend something simple, like floating Indian Fern, that won't get in the way when you're filtering or changing the water. A Java fern or Anubias on a piece
of bogwood would also be easy, since such epiphytes don't require a substrate. On the land side, since these amphibians burrow, the standard recommendation is to use moss for the substrate, and then a couple of cork
half-cylinders. Together this will recreate the leaf litter environment these salamanders enjoy, the cork representing the decaying tree trunks and other hollows where the salamanders hide during the day.>
Like I said I have an 80 gallon tank so I have them room. I have a large swimming area for them and a small drinking area. They are very smart animals, They know what water hole is for what.
The female like to be in the water the most ( the larger one) the male will go in the water but only for a little bit, he like to chill over by the small water hole. They are a great joy to have. And they love their home, but like I said just not sure what plants I can put in with them. If anyone can help me out I would be very grateful.
<A few small potted plants with the (plastic) pots hidden in the moss might be an option. Good houseplant choices would include things like Acorus, Lobelia, Spathiphyllum and Syngonium. Almost any small fern or epiphyte
would be an option as well. However, some of these plants need bright light, and your Salamanders won't like that, and more significantly, lights produce heat, and heat raises the temperature of the vivarium if
ventilation isn't sufficient. Hot, dry air would be lethal. So balance the various factors depending on your tank, and adjust the plan accordingly.>
P.S I am in Madison Wisconsin USA. I know the state law is I can only have three but I have no plans on getting more salamanders but does anyone know what other amphibians I can put with the salamanders that they will not eat or will not eat them.
<You can't. Tiger Salamanders (like other Ambystoma species) are for single-species set-ups only: if they can swallow another animal, they will. In captivity they are known to consume dead mice (pinkies) so I wouldn't trust them with anything else.>
Thank again everyone!
Tim n Jordan
<Cheers, Neale.>

Tiger Salamander, hlth.  -- 9/29/07 <Hello "?". Andrea with you tonight. The Shift Key for that pesky letter "I" is directly under Caps Lock on the left.> I am having problems with my Tiger Salamanders and Water Dogs. <Bummer. They are always so cute. Lets see if we can help.> They are getting white spots all over there bodies and are dying. I tried to separate the sick ones from the ones without spots. The next day some of the ones I separate now have the white spots. I don't use tap water I have a water well. It seems to be coming in from in from the wild ones collected from only one pond. Is there any type of medicine I can use to cure this? It seems it is only a day or two after they get the spots that they die. Please help here is my email address xxxx@yahoo.com. Thanks for the help. <Wow, sounds like ich, HOWEVER, amphibians cannot get Ich and Ich meds CAN harm many amphibs. It is hard to tell from what you are telling us, but if you could send a picture, that would help a great deal. Are the spots small or large? Are they fuzzy looking, flat, open, raised? Any more detail you can give would help a great deal. In the meantime, here is a great link on amphibian disease on WWM. Read it, and the linked files at the top. You just might find an answer on what it is, and how to treat it. Until then, I'd stop taking pets out of that pond.> <You're welcome?> <Andrea> re: Tiger Salamander -- 9/29/07 Andrea <No problem. Can you please do me a favor and edit this with capitalization and such so we can use it on our site? We post these on our site, and can't edit them all. Thanks so much, and no more ich medicine. A picture will really help. Also, read those links! Andrea> thanks for answering me. the spots are small and white and start as only a couple and within 24 hours the hole body is covered and there is no slime feeling on the dead animal. and it seem to spread very quickly. I took all the animals out of the tank and bleached it out and it did not make any difference. I took a couple of the sick animals out and tried some Ick medicine with no luck. I will try and get a picture for you. I deal with a lot of different reptiles and have never seen this before if I find some thing out that takes care of this problem I will let you know and we are not taking anymore animals out of this pond. thanks again for your response

Teratogens and Salamanders Hello Mr. (Dr?) Fenner - <Just Bob please> I came across your article "Treating Tap/Source-water for Marine Aquarium Use" while trying to track down chloramine test kits.  I found your article very interesting.  I work with tiger salamander larvae - which are obviously freshwater! - <Yes... Ambystoma tigrinum?> but many of the things you mention are applicable to amphibian larvae as well.  I was wondering if we could chat on the phone so I could get your advise/opinions on some of the aquarium chemicals I have use/ plan to use. I realize you don't want to be seen as promoting one brand or another but I'd like to avoid any pitfalls you or your colleagues have encountered. <Better to just hash out on the Net.> I can be reached at the number below; alternatively I would be happy to pick up the $ if you send me a number and time to call.  Thanks in advance for your time. Danna Schock <Do you have specific questions, concerns? For the sake of sharing with others who might use this information, let's try keying this out. Bob Fenner>

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