Best Pet Salamander

By Snaketracks / July 26, 2021

Choosing the best pet salamander for you will depend on what your preferences are, how much time you can give to caring for it, and your budget. There are plenty of different types of species that you can choose from, depending on what you might be looking for in a new pet. 

While some people think that salamanders are lizards, they are technically considered amphibians, not reptiles like lizards. Lizards are scaley with claws, whereas salamanders do not have those qualities.

What to Expect: Becoming A Salamander Owner

If this is your first time keeping a salamander or want to know what to expect, there are a few things to consider before you try to become a salamander owner.

With salamanders, people always wonder if UVB lighting is needed for these creatures.

For example, axolotls do not require UVB lighting since they have an ultraviolet sensor in their retina.

While some species might not particularly need it, it is still a good idea to provide your salamander with 10 to 12 hours of full-spectrum UVB rays during the daylight hours to keep them healthy. You can do this using an incandescent day bulb.

If you do provide UVB lighting, be sure to install multiple hides for your pet to have the option of getting in and out of the sunlight, which will be a requirement.

When it comes to the toxins that seep out of their skin, while it is an irritant, it is highly unlikely to kill a human. It is a defense mechanism that is toxic to their predators.

As long as you do not ingest the toxin, you should be fine since they are not that toxic to humans. Try not to rub it onto your eyes or face since that can cause irritation.

Now that we’ve touched on preparing for your pet salamander, here are some of the most interesting salamanders that are also beginner-friendly:

Best Pet Salamanders

1. Axolotl

Underwater Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) portrait close up in an aquarium
Underwater Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum) portrait close up in an aquarium

Quick Facts

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Ambystoma mexicanum
  • Other Names: Mexican Walking Fish
  • Adult Size: 12 inches
  • Lifespan: 15 years
  • Poisonous: No

Quick Care Requirements

  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 to 20 gallons
  • Food: worms, insect larvae, mollusks, crustaceans, salmon pellets, and smaller fish
  • UVB Lighting: Not Needed
  • Temperature Range: 60 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit

These guys look like tadpoles with legs and a long tail. On each side of their heads are feather-like gills that have ultraviolet sensors. They are usually pink, but can also be black, brown, yellow, and a variety of colors.

They are known for their ability to regenerate their limbs, tail, and gills.

Axolotls are native to the freshwater lakes of Mexico, specifically Lake Xochimilco and Lake Chalco in the Valley of Mexico. They like high-altitude bodies of water, which is why they are so specific to their range.

These carnivorous salamanders eat small fish, mollusks, worms, crustaceans, insect larvae, and any small prey they might find in the wild. You can feed your pet white worms, blackworms, bloodworms, or commercial salmon pellets as well.

Axolotls are known to produce a ton of waste, which might be a good thing to keep in mind.

2. Tiger Salamander

Tiger salamander ( Ambystoma tigrinum) in a terrarium habitat with water
Tiger salamander ( Ambystoma tigrinum) in a terrarium habitat with water

Quick Facts

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Ambystoma tigrinum
  • Other Names: Eastern Tiger Salamander
  • Adult Size: 6.5 to 14 inches
  • Lifespan: 16 to 25 years
  • Poisonous: Yes

Quick Care Requirements

  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Food: Insect larvae, crustaceans, tadpoles, worms, snails, slugs, small fish
  • UVB Lighting: Not Needed
  • Temperature Range: 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit 

Tiger salamanders are a species of mole salamander. They are also one of the biggest and most widely ranged terrestrial salamanders in North America.

They are brown, black, or dark gray with faded yellow-brown blotches. 

These salamanders can be found along the Atlantic coast of America, a majority of them living in central North America.

They will usually make homes out of marsh areas, forests, and grasslands where they feed on tadpoles, worms, snails, insects, small fish, smaller fellow salamander larvae, insect larvae, and smaller crustaceans. 

You can also feed them pinkie mice if they’re large enough.

In the late winter or early spring, they will migrate to breeding ponds.

They are the most popular pet salamanders due to their availability, interesting look, and large, hefty bodies.

3. Slimy Salamander

Northern Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinosus) on grass

Quick Facts

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Plethodontidae
  • Scientific Name: Plethodon glutinosus
  • Other Names: Northern Slimy Salamander, Sticky Salamander
  • Adult Size: 4 to 7 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Poisonous: Yes

Quick Care Requirements

  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Food: Invertebrates
  • UVB Lighting: UVB rays with full-spectrum lighting needed for 10 to 12 hours a day
  • Temperature Range: 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit

These small, sticky salamanders are typically black with a grey underside and white specks all throughout the length of them. They also have about 16 vertical grooves along the sides of its body.

They are moist to the touch with a glutinous, clingy substance that sticks to the hands. Some enthusiasts find it off-putting but if you can get past it, they make really great pets with their easy care and cute buggy eyes.

This species of salamander is native to the eastern areas of North America, but cannot be found in some states of the area such as South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. 

They enjoy undisturbed woodlands or wooded ravines that stay moist enough for them to survive. They might also be found on the rocky, steep slopes of hemlock or deciduous forests, hiding under rotten logs or layers of forest floors.

They like anywhere moist since they must stay wet for health and breeding.

This breed consumes a diet of centipedes, millipedes, spiders, snails, slugs, earthworms, small invertebrates like crickets, and other adult insects. Make sure you provide a few good hides since this species likes to spend most of its time hiding away.

4. Marbled Salamander

Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum) in park on leaves and other vegetation
Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum) in park on leaves and other vegetation

Quick Facts

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Ambystoma opacum
  • Adult Size: 3 to 5 inches
  • Lifespan: 4 to 10 years
  • Poisonous: Yes

Quick Care Requirements

  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Food: Small insects, snails, slugs, and worms
  • UVB Lighting: Not Needed
  • Temperature Range: 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit

Marbled salamanders are chubby and stout species of mole salamander with a dark brown or black body with a white or light grey colored marble-like striping, which is where they get their name from.

This species is has a wide range spanning from southeastern states of the United States. They can live in a variety of habitats from low floodplains to woody hillsides.

These dark little carnivores eat worms, snails, slugs, and smaller insects.

They are popular due to their cute little chubby bodies and pretty pattern.

5. Fire Salamander

Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) on grass in the woods
Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) on grass in the woods

Quick Facts

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Salamandra salamandra
  • Other Names: European Fire Salamander 
  • Adult Size: 5.5 to 12 inches
  • Lifespan: Anywhere from 14 to 30 years
  • Poisonous: Yes

Quick Care Requirements

  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Food: Insects, earthworms, and slugs
  • UVB Lighting: Needed
  • Temperature Range: 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit

Fire salamanders are black with yellow, sometimes orange, varying spots and blotches all over their body.

This species is commonly found in Europe, mainly in central European forests. They like hilly areas or deciduous forests where they can hide under leaf litter or mossy trunks.

Salamanders need moist environments in order to keep themselves from drying out. This is why they reside in areas with small ponds or brooks, anywhere with clean water and lots of larvae.

They like to consume slugs, earthworms, beetles, flies, centipedes, and millipedes.

6. Spotted Salamander

Hand holding a small spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)
Hand holding a small spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)

Quick Facts

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Ambystoma maculatum
  • Other Names: Yellow-spotted Salamander
  • Adult Size: 6 to 10 inches
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Poisonous: Yes

Quick Care Requirements

  • Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Food: Snails, spiders, earthworms, centipedes, and other invertebrates.
  • UVB Lighting: Not Needed
  • Temperature Range: 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit

Spotted salamanders are blue-black and grey on their undersides. Their bodies have two rows of yellow or orange dots down their length all the way down to its tail. They have 12 coastal grooves.

They are native to southeastern Canada all the way down to southeastern states of America. They inhabit deciduous forests, bottomland forests, coniferous forests, and joint floodplains that have moist habitats for breeding like vernal pools.

They like to eat earthworms, spiders, snails, invertebrates, and anything else they might find on the forest grounds.

FAQ

What is the best salamander to have as a pet?

In order to decide which pet salamander is the best option for you, it will really depend on your needs and standards. The most popular salamander in the pet trade is definitely the Tiger Salamander. People find them attractive and they are relatively easy to care for.

Are salamanders good pets for beginners?

Salamanders can be a great pet for beginners because they are entertaining, interesting-looking, live for quite a long time, and don’t require too much experience in order to care for them.

Do slimy salamanders make good pets?

Slimies can make great pets if you can look past their stickiness, but it usually is not an issue since you won’t be handling them until you truly need to anyways.

Do spotted salamanders make good pets?

Spotted salamanders can make great pets due to their long lives, easy care, and inexpensive maintenance.

What do you need for a pet salamander?

Besides a 10-gallon minimum tank, you might want to get some moist substrate so that your pet doesn’t dry out. What works best is Eco Earth soil mixed with water. You can add in some artificial leaves or rocks for them since they require multiple hides. Make sure you also prepare their food and a water dish that is big enough for them to soak in. 

What is the lifespan of a pet salamander?

On average, salamanders will live anywhere from 5 to 10 years, depending on how well you care for them and the species. 

What is the most dangerous salamander?

The Rough-Skinned Newt, or Taricha granulosa, is the most toxic of all the salamander species.

How much does a pet salamander cost?

Buying a pet salamander itself can cost anywhere as little as $10 to as much as $100, depending on where you buy it and what species it is.

Can a salamander kill a dog?

Salamanders secrete toxins out of their skin, which can cause pain, fatigue, and nausea if a dog ingests the toxins. It may also irritate their eyes. If your dog was bitten by your salamander be sure to keep a close eye and inspect them for any reactions.

Can you touch a salamander?

Since salamanders have absorbent skin, you must be careful to wash and wet your hands before handling them. Even though we don’t recommend handling them unless you really need to, you can do so if you are taking the right precautions.

Do salamanders like to be held?

While they are relatively tolerant to handling, some individuals might be more nervous than others. The issue though is not how they feel about handling but that handling them is not good for their absorbent skin. You really should not be handling it if you don’t absolutely have to.

Does a salamander bite hurt?

Salamanders have really tiny teeth which aren’t even sharp so while a bite from one might startle you, they usually don’t hurt that much. If a salamander bites you though, they are not likely to break your skin. Do keep an eye on your bite and clean any wounds you might have to avoid infection, just in case.

What’s the difference between a newt and a salamander?

Newts will be more equipped for the water with webbed feet and paddle tails, whereas salamanders have longer tails with prominent toes for digging in the soil.

Conclusion

Salamanders can be really adorable, great, entertaining pets to keep!

Our list consists of the cutest, beginner-friendly salamanders. We hope that it helped you on your journey into the salamander world.

If you know how to properly care for them, you might be able to enjoy yours for a very long time.

We hope that this article helped you figure out which salamander might be the best pet for you whether you are a beginner or just want to keep one yourself.

Leave a comment below if you have a salamander or have any questions we might have not answered!

References

https://pethelpful.com/reptiles-amphibians/Pet-Salamanders

https://www.petco.com/content/petco/PetcoStore/en_US/pet-services/resource-center/caresheets/salamanders-and-newts.html

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