Can You Keep a Salamander as a Pet
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Can You Keep a Salamander as a Pet? Are Salamanders Good Pets?

More and more people are keeping small reptiles and amphibians as exotic pets. One of these amphibians soaring in popularity is the salamander. 

However, you may be wondering, do salamanders make good pets for the average pet owner? 

Salamanders have particular and strict care requirements. Sadly, not adhering to these needs could make a salamander sick or injured. This means that anyone looking to get a species of salamander as a pet will need to do a lot of careful research. 

Here we will be describing the most popular pet salamander species and explain how to take proper care of them. 

is a salamander an amphibian

We will also be answering some common questions that prospective salamander owners have. Let’s dive right into it. 

What is a Salamander? 

Salamanders are a type of amphibian that bears a passing resemblance to lizards. This is because most salamanders have long tails, long bodies, and short legs. 

They are also both cold-blooded animals. However, this is where the similarities between lizards and salamanders end. 

are salamanders poisonous

There are technically many differences between amphibians and reptiles. Here we will mainly be focusing on the differences in physical appearances and care concerns. 

Salamanders have delicate, porous skin. This makes handling them potentially dangerous for the amphibian. 

Salamanders Need to Be in the Water

Most salamanders spend about half of their time in the water. This keeps their moist skin and bodies healthy. 

There are some exceptions to this general rule, though. For example, some species of Newts, a type of salamander, spend most of their time on land. 

Did You Know? Axolotls spend pretty much all of their time in the water. 


Since most amphibians cannot really be handled and have specific care requirements based on their species, they are fairly difficult for the average person to own.

Properly caring for a pet salamander is very important but not for everyone. This could make certain species of reptiles a better-suited option for novice exotic pet owners. 

Salamander Care Requirements

Care requirements will likely differ depending on the specific types of salamanders. However, there are a few basic things that every type of salamander will need. 

For one thing, all salamanders will need to be housed in a tank or aquarium. The land-to-water ratio in this tank will differ depending on the species of salamander. 

Additionally, all water will need to be changed regularly. Most salamanders require misting and high humidity levels. 

All salamanders will need to eat as well, and most salamanders prefer to be fed at night. 

This is because salamanders are mostly nocturnal creatures. The ideal diet for these night crawlers varies from species to species. 

What Are The Best Species of Salamanders for Beginners? 

There are some species of salamander that are easier to keep than others. Here are the most popular species of pet salamanders and how to take care of them. 

What Are The Best Species of Salamanders for Beginners

These species are also considered to be the best for those new to keeping amphibians as pets

Fire Salamander

Fire Salamanders are popular due to their stunning colorations. The Fire Salamander has a mostly black colored body with large brilliant yellow or orange spots. 

Fire salamanders are also a pretty good size, with adult salamanders of this species only growing to 12 inches maximum. 

Tank Requirements 

One Fire Salamander will need at least a 10-gallon tank. However, more space is always better when it comes to salamanders. 

If you plan on having more than one Fire Salamander, it is a good idea to add 10 gallons per salamander. 

This means that you will need a 30-gallon tank when housing three Fire Salamanders. 

Your tank will also need substrate and plenty of hides. Logs, purchased hides, and live plants can all work well. 

What About Substrate?

As for substrate, anything that is safe to ingest is loose enough for the salamander to burrow into, and can get wet is best. 

Leaf litter is a good example of a suitable substrate for Fire Salamanders. There should also be a section of your tank that contains shallow water for soaking. 

This water should not be chlorinated and should only be cleaned with aquarium-safe products. 

Additionally, this water will need to be changed regularly. It is also best to lightly mist the enclosure every few days. Soaking the substrate is not recommended, though. 

Temperature and Lighting Requirements

Fire Salamanders thrive when in temperatures that are between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit (16-20 degrees Celcius). 

While Fire Salamanders can handle temperatures around and slightly below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, they shouldn’t be in temperatures above 68 degrees Fahrenheit. 

This is because Fire Salamanders are easily stressed in hot temperatures. 

Fire Salamanders need lighting in their tank 12 hours a day. This mimics the lighting of the sun. Incandescent and fluorescent bulbs both work fine. 

Be careful to get lightbulbs that do not heat the tank up too much. 

Fire Salamander Diet 

Fire Salamanders need to eat small invertebrates such as live earthworms and crickets. Some other soft invertebrates that can make a good treat from time to time include: 

  • Silkworms 
  • Wax Worms 
  • Slugs 
  • Small Caterpillars 
  • Small Roaches 

Adult Fire Salamanders will need to eat the equivalent of around 3 to 4 crickets every couple of days. 

what does a fire salamander eat

It is recommended to feed Juvenile Fire Salamanders more often. Supplementing these insects with a safe supplement is a good idea as well. 

It is best to feed your Fire Salamander their meals either directly with tongs or in a small dish. This will prevent the live food from getting into the substrate. 

Other Fire Salamander Care Requirements 

There are some other things to consider when caring for Fire Salamanders. 

The main thing is that males tend to fight with one another, especially if there are other female Fire Salamanders in the tank with them. 

It is also important to mention that Fire Salamanders should not be handled unless necessary. 

This is because Fire Salamanders are fairly shy creatures, and they can also become damaged with extensive handling due to their fragile and sensitive skin. 

Tiger Salamander 

The Tiger Salamander is a primarily black salamander with yellow striping. 

They are also from North America, so some people living in the United States may see them in the wild. 

Tiger Salamanders are known to be less shy than some other popular salamander species. Plus, Tiger Salamanders are an ideal size, not getting longer than 8 inches in length. 

Tank Requirements 

A 10-gallon tank or larger is required for one adult Tiger Salamander. You will need to add 10 gallons to this tank size per extra Tiger Salamander. 

tiger salamander tank setup

This tank should include both a sizable water area and a land area covered in a substrate. 

A burrowable substrate that is safe for the salamander to ingest is best. 

The substrate will also need to be able to get wet, as the Tiger Salamander’s tank requires regular misting. 

Water in your Tiger Salamander’s tank will need to be cleaned regularly as well. Be careful to ensure the water does not become acidic. 

Providing your Tiger Salamander with some hiding places will keep them comfortable. Additionally, safe live plants will help keep tank humidity at the desired 70%. 

Temperature and Lighting Requirements

Tiger Salamanders can live in a wide temperature range. 

50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (10-24 degrees Celcius)  is fine for a Tiger Salamander to live in, but 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (18-21 degrees Celcius) is technically ideal. 

A Tiger Salamander’s tank should not get hotter than 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celcius), as any hotter than this and they will become stressed. 

Like Fire Salamanders, lighting that mimics direct sunlight is best for Tiger Salamanders. Incandescent lighting works best. 

Tiger Salamander Diet 

Tiger Salamanders should be fed around three times a week or less. Feeding frequency depends on several factors such as age, size, and weight. 

Tiger Salamanders can safely eat the following: 

  • Crickets 
  • Earthworms 
  • Waxworms 
  • Brine Shrimp

Feeding your Tiger Salamander directly or in a dish can help prevent issues. 

If you are ever concerned about the frequency of feeding or the quality of your Tiger Salamander’s diet, speaking with a veterinarian is the best practice. 

Other Care Requirements 

Tiger Salamanders are susceptible to respiratory and parasitic infections. Therefore, it is a good idea to be on the lookout for them. 

Axolotl

Axolotls are growing in popularity, and they are unique because they are completely aquatic salamanders. 

With selective breeding, there are many interesting colors and patterns that Axolotls can come in. Axolotls have gills, and they can reach up to 12 inches long as adults. 

Axolotl Tank Requirements 

You will need at least a 10-gallon tank when housing one axolotl. 

However, going to a larger tank size could help improve water quality and reduce the frequency of tank cleanings and water changes needed. 

is an axolotl a type of salamander

Of course, you will need a larger tank if you plan on housing more than one Axolotl together. 

Axolotls are an aquatic species of salamander. This means that they will spend all of their time in the water, so you essentially need an aquarium. 

Water Quality is Important

Axolotls are known for producing a lot of waste, so it is crucial that you do water tests daily and do water changes often. 

20% water changes once a week is a good rule of thumb. 

As for substrate, sand is best because it mimics the Axolotl’s natural habitat. However, aquarium gravel is fine as long as the pieces are larger than the Axolotl’s head. 

This will prevent your Axolotl from eating the gravel, which is detrimental to their health. 

Axolotls love to hide. Caves, rocks, and aquatic plants are a great idea for aquarium decor. 

Temperature and Lighting Requirements

Axolotls need to be kept in water temperatures between 60 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6-17.8 degrees Celcius) at all times. Regular aquarium lights are fine for Axolotls. 

Axolotls Diet 

Like most salamanders, Axolotls are carnivorous creatures. Here are some foods that can be fed to Axolotls. 

  • Brine Shrimp 
  • Earthworms 
  • Bloodworms

It is best to feed your Axolotls using long tweezers or tongs. Any way that you can feed your Axolotl directly is best. Axolotls should be fed about every 2 to 3 days. 

Other Axolotl Care Requirements 

The acidity of the water should be between 6.5 and 7.5 pH at all times. Similarly, the water hardness level should always be between 7 and 8 dKH. 

A good water filter can help keep things under control. 

It is best to pick a water filtration system that keeps the water still. Hang-on back filters with low-flow heads are recommended.

Fire-Bellied Newt 

The Fire-Bellied Newt is a Chinese and Japanese Newt that spends part of its time in both the water and on land. 

Fire bellied Newts make popular pets because they are brightly colored and small in size. 

This means that you can house more than one Fire-Bellied Newt in one tank more easily than some other species of salamander. 

Tank Requirements 

Fire-Bellied Newts need a 10-gallon tank, but this tank can house two newts. Meanwhile, a 20-gallon tank can house up to four Fire-Bellied Newts. 

This tank should have a sizable water area, and this water should be checked and changed frequently. 

A gravel substrate that the Newts cannot swallow is fine for a land area substrate. It is crucial to use smooth gravel, as rough gravel could damage a Newt’s skin. 

Hides consisting of small logs, rocks, and live plants will keep your Fire-Bellied Newts happy and comfortable. Sphagnum moss also works great.

Temperature and Lighting Requirements

Fire-Bellied Newts thrive in temperatures that are between 62 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit (17-20 degrees Celcius). 

Temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celcius) could make a Fire-Bellied Newt stressed, which could negatively impact its immune system. 

Fire-Bellied Newts just need lighting that simulates sunlight for 12 hours a day. Low wattage Florescent or inflorescent lights work just fine. 

Fire-Bellied Newt Diet 

Fire-Bellied Newts have a diet similar to most other salamanders. The Fire-Bellied Newt’s diet can include: 

  • Earthworms 
  • Brine Shrimp 
  • Glass Shrimp 

Newts need to be fed around every 2 to 3 days. Feeding your Newts directly or in a dish will prevent issues with cleanup. 

Other Care Requirements 

Bacterial and fungal infections are common in Fire-Bellied Newts with compromised immune systems. 

Being on the lookout for these things and keeping their tank clean can help prevent these problems. 

Ensuring clean water and frequently checking your tank is crucial. It is also the best way to keep temperature and humidity levels stable.

Related Questions 

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Salamander? 

You can purchase most Salamanders in pet stores. The price of salamanders is unusually fairly cheap compared to other exotic pets at between $10-$50. 

The price may vary depending on specific species and demand. 

Is it OK to Hold a Salamander? 

You should only hold a salamander if absolutely necessary. Salamanders have extremely delicate skin and bodies, so they can easily perish if held.

Do Salamanders Make Good Pets? 

Yes, Salamanders can make great pets for those who enjoy caring for aquarium-based wild animals. 

Other species like the Spotted Salamander and Slimy Salamander can make good pets as well. 

Keep in mind though that due to their special needs, Salamanders do not make good pets for young children.

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