climbing newt

Preventing Escape

by Jennifer Macke

 

Escape is one of the leading causes of death for captive newts and salamanders. Unfortunately, most people have to learn this lesson the hard way. They don't realize the hazard until they have lost at least one animal this way.

There are several things you can do to reduce this risk.

  • Always keep lids closed.
  • Engineer tank lids to make escape absolutely impossible.
  • Never assume that a newt or salamander "couldn't possibly". These animals are Houdini-like in their ability to find a way out! Even large caudates (tiger salamanders and 10-inch ribbed newts, for example) have been known to climb glass and get out.

The photos below show specific things that you should do (or avoid) when designing a tank lid for a newt or salamander.

 

image showing how to prevent escape No!
Filters that hang on the back of the tank are not suitable for use with newts. The newt shown did, in fact, escape (but was luckily found alive). The filter was removed and the situation was remediated, as shown on this photo.
image showing how to prevent escape YES.
Run tubing through holes just barely big enough.
image showing how to prevent escape No!
Don't run tubing or cords under a screen lid - not even at the corner. This creates a large enough gap under the lid to allow small newts to escape. This method is OK for large newts.
image showing how to prevent escape YES.
Large tubing for canister filters can be put through holes cut in the screen.
image showing how to prevent escape No!
Don't leave a hole like this open, as newts can climb the cord, like a monkey up a rope!
image showing how to prevent escape YES.
Seal gaps with electrical tape. (Note that tape may not stick well to a screen lid. Foam, as shown below, is better.)
image showing how to prevent escape YES.
Seal small gaps with soft foam, wedged firmly into place.
image showing how to prevent escape YES.
Seal small gaps with soft foam, wedged firmly into place.
image showing how to prevent escape YES.
Gaps around tubing can also be sealed by glueing pieces of plastic into place.
image showing how to prevent escape YES.
Make homemade screen tops that fit flat against the entire top edge of the tank.
image showing how to prevent escape YES.
Make homemade acrylic tops that fit flat against the entire top edge of the tank. Note that some forms of acrylic/plexiglass will warp when they are moist on one side, leaving gaps for escape; thus acrylic is generally not recommended for making lids, unless you are sure that it will not warp.
image showing how to prevent escape YES.
Electrical cords can sometimes be accommodated by making a carefully-sized slot.
image showing how to prevent escape YES.
A wide rim is enough to prevent escape. The standard rim on a standard manufactured tank is NOT enough to prevent climbing out. The tank shown here has an extra-wide rim added. For a temporary quick-fix, a rim can also be made with duct tape.
image showing how to prevent escape No!
A wide rim, as shown here, is worthless if cords or tubes are available for climbing.
image showing how to prevent escape YES.
Large cut-outs in hoods can be covered with window screen material glued in place.
image showing how to prevent escape YES.
Plastic tubs should have secure, tight-fitting lids. To improve ventilation, cut small holes.
image showing how to prevent escape YES.
In an emergency (larvae near metamorphosis and no tank available), panty hose can be used to cover a tub.
image showing how to prevent escape YES.
In this unusual example, a cat litter box was used as a temporary tank. Duct tape was used to create a wide rim to prevent escape.

 

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