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Eurycea wilderae eye candy

This is a discussion on Eurycea wilderae eye candy within the Plethodontids and Lungless Salamanders (Bolitoglossa, Eurycea, Plethodon, etc.) forums, part of the Species, Genus & Family Discussions category; Just a couple of photos of my E. wilderae at home. I have a group of several young adults collected ...

Plethodontids and Lungless Salamanders (Bolitoglossa, Eurycea, Plethodon, etc.) The largest, and one of the most diverse groups of salamanders, these salamanders have all evolved to breathe solely through their skin and are found almost exclusively in North America.


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Old 22nd November 2008   #1 (permalink)
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Default Eurycea wilderae eye candy

Just a couple of photos of my E. wilderae at home. I have a group of several young adults collected as metamorphs and larvae last summer. This male is absolutely spectacular, almost immaculately spotless and a luminous golden orange color. Photos don't do it justice. The others are pretty too, but not quite this nice.

Hopefully they'll breed like rabbits!
-Tim
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Eurycea wilderae eye candy-sm-male-wild.jpg   Eurycea wilderae eye candy-sm-male-wild-body.jpg  



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Old 22nd November 2008   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

That male looks stunning! I really love the coloration on these guys.



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Old 22nd November 2008   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

He is beautiful! I think your posts today are doing a great job changing people's perceptions of Plethodontids!



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Old 22nd November 2008   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

beautiful specimen, I look forward to hear more from you when they reproduce



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Old 22nd November 2008   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

What are these perceptions you speak of?!?! How could anyone could think badly of the best salamanders???



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Old 23rd November 2008   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

Well, they are a neglected family, despite being so widespread in the US. There must be SOME reason that they are so seldom kept or bred, and it's not a lack of availability. I didn't mean to suggest that anyone's perceptions are negative, it's just that people don't pay much attention to them.



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Old 23rd November 2008   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

What are they like as captives? Are they shy? Do they eat well? What do you feed them? And how big does that species get?



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Old 23rd November 2008   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

Quote:
Hopefully they'll breed like rabbits!
Oh, they'll breed alright...watch the males though, I've had them rip legs off of each other in the fury of the breeding season.

In the end, most Plethodontids just aren't nearly as forgiving of marginal temps and water quality. The occasional hobbyist who ventures out into the lungless world most often gets a bad experience they wouldn't have ever had with a newt and decides to leave them alone. Not to mention, they have a tendency to escape in unthinkable ways. Then for those who do survive, they never get tame or beg the way a person's favorite newts do. I think for 98% of the hobbyists out there, there's much more to caution folks about Plethodontids than to recommend them.

Believe me, it's more of an indictment of hobbyists than Pleths!



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Old 23rd November 2008   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

John-

It may be because I raised these from such a small size, but these salamanders don't seem very shy at all. Right now they are still living in deli cups (transferring them to a 30gal later today) but even when I dig them out of the moss/bark chips, they dont flee and will slowly crawl out onto my hand. And I haven't handled them much at all, but they will feed in front of me as soon as I open the cups.

So far they've eaten mainly pinhead crickets and fruit flies, plus a few bean beetles, since they morphed. I imagine they would eat whiteworms and other small worms as well. Adult size is 6-10cm TL.

I personally haven't found extreme sensitivity to water quality or temps to hold true. Spotila's 1972 paper showed pretty clearly that lethal temps aren't reached until the mid 80's F, and I have seen plethodontids thrive for over a decade in wet paper towel enclosures with ammonia off the charts. Many species will become very accustomed to their keeper, though I have only seen Pseudotriton and Gyrinophilus actually beg for food.

That being said...there are some species which seem to remain reclusive no matter how long they are in captivity. And Nate is right about the mad escape skills.

my $0.02.
-Tim




Last edited by taherman; 23rd November 2008 at 15:52. Reason: wrong date
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Old 23rd November 2008   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

Quote:
I personally haven't found extreme sensitivity to water quality or temps to hold true. Spotila's 1976 paper showed pretty clearly that lethal temps aren't reached until the mid 80's F, and I have seen plethodontids thrive for over a decade in wet paper towel enclosures with ammonia off the charts. Many species will become very accustomed to their keeper, though I have only seen Pseudotriton and Gyrinophilus actually beg for food.
I sure have...I've had Plethodon die from the heat of my hands as I walked back to my car to grab a container. Spotila's paper doesn't compare well to the average hobbyist setups and doesn't tell the whole temperature story. There's a big difference between a critical thermal maxima (CTmax) and the temperature at which a Plethodontid will begin to experience ultimately fatal heat stress. Even if it takes a raise to the mid 80s (Spotila does this in a relatively short amount of time) to kill an "average" plethodon, it says nothing to how they'll waste away when consistently kept in warm yet not outright lethal temperatures. An example of this is CTmax scores for Rhyacotriton and Ascaphus, who score roughly 81F and 85F respectively (Bury 2007). However, when kept at a constant 72F, all adults still died within 30 hrs. Let's just say, I wouldn't recommend you keep those wilderae at 77F



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Old 23rd November 2008   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

i have found that plethodontids are MUCH tougher than people think. i was keeping many plethodontids in arizona for many years. my last year there was a little too much however as the heat and AC got to them. i had to send them off. but they had done just fine for about 4 years prior. many species that people think just dont do good actually do very well... batrachoceps for instance.

when it comes to temps, all sals are heat sensitive to a degree... some more than others. it also comes down to the species. many salamanders from the northeast may not be able to handle temps in the mid 70's or higher, but many from the west coast can!. several of the ensatina and aneides can handle temps into the mid 80's with no issues whatsoever. i have seen E. klauberi endure temps around the 90's and survive. i have heard similar stories with A. lugubris.

when it comes to hardiness, plethodontids are easily one of the best. they are my fav group of sals and i keep almost exclusively plethodontids.



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Old 23rd November 2008   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

Quote:
several of the ensatina and aneides can handle temps into the mid 80's with no issues whatsoever. i have seen E. klauberi endure temps around the 90's and survive.
I'll have to disagree there. I've had healthy, long-term E. klauberi and E. e. escholtzi drop tails and die from heat stress after a week in the high 70s.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see more people keeping Plethodontids, as I'm a pretty big Pleth-head myself, but I don't want to see a bunch of people get the wrong idea and kill a bunch of sals by trying to keep them in the high 70s and 80s.



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Old 23rd November 2008   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

Before I got to the zoo the reserve plethodontids were living at 72-75 year round, and many of the same animals collected back in 1998-2000 are still doing fine. Ive found cinereus under debris on blacktop in our parking lot in the summer at 82-84F on a 100 degree day. Certainly some species are more sensitive than others, and I don't know how hot your hands were, but I still wouldn't generalize the whole group as sensitive to heat and water quality.

Spotila had a subset of each of the species he tested that he acclimated to 77F for a week or more prior to testing. I would sincerely doubt that this temperature is lethal for most plethodontids, even when sustained for several weeks or months. If someone cannot ensure that their enclosures stay below 80F most of the time, I wouldnt suggest they keep any salamanders. Available moisture and rate of desiccation is obviously a major concern at the high end of the temperature range for any amphibian.



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Old 23rd November 2008   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

Red-backs on asphalt on a 100F day would seem to me to be quickly on their way out of the gene pool...

I'd wager that 77F sustained for several months would kill at least 75%+ of all US Plethodontid species. Maybe we should secure some funding for this little experiment?



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Old 24th November 2008   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

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Originally Posted by nate View Post
I'll have to disagree there. I've had healthy, long-term E. klauberi and E. e. escholtzi drop tails and die from heat stress after a week in the high 70s.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see more people keeping Plethodontids, as I'm a pretty big Pleth-head myself, but I don't want to see a bunch of people get the wrong idea and kill a bunch of sals by trying to keep them in the high 70s and 80s.
i ve kept klauberi longer than any other sal and i have PLENTY of field experience with them. when i say ive had then survive those temps, i mean it. and i kept my klauberi, croceator, and platensis in mid 70 temps for many months through the summer. its hard to keep the temps in the house lower than the mid 70's without going broke. they also survive temps in the 80's and even the 90's (when the AC goes out) ive had experience with this as well as a good friend of mine. i only say this because i have experienced it first hand. but think what you want. it is not that important and there is no reason to ever expose them to those temps and i am not recommending it.... just saying its possible.



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Old 24th November 2008   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

Well, as far as behavior, to say "Pleths" don't tame out is a pretty broad statement. I've kept aquatic Eurycea before that would come out of hiding at the sound of their enclosure lid opening like dogs to a water bowl. I currently have several Aneides and Ensatina that immediately come out from under their cover when I open their boxes, habituated (which is all tame is with any salamander) to their feeding regiment. So for the most part I'd propose that "taming" of salamanders is nothing more than habituation, with simply takes time. I think a lot of people who have kept various Pleths simply didn't have them long enough to reach this point. I beleive the enclosure set-up has bearing on this too.

As for temps, I do try to maintain a high in the summer of ~68F, but this year my window unit went down while I was gone and my entire colony tolerated 80-84F for a week without a single loss. To make matters worse, the new unit kept tripping its intermal breaker for the first week and I kept experiencing the same temp surge for the next week. Ideal, no, tolerable, yet.



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Old 24th November 2008   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

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i ve kept klauberi longer than any other sal and i have PLENTY of field experience with them. when i say ive had then survive those temps, i mean it. and i kept my klauberi, croceator, and platensis in mid 70 temps for many months through the summer. its hard to keep the temps in the house lower than the mid 70's without going broke. they also survive temps in the 80's and even the 90's (when the AC goes out) ive had experience with this as well as a good friend of mine. i only say this because i have experienced it first hand. but think what you want. it is not that important and there is no reason to ever expose them to those temps and i am not recommending it.... just saying its possible.
It's really baffling we could have such completely opposite findings...I grew up in San Diego County, my backyard was the Cuyamaca Mtns. I've found literally hundreds of ensatinas over the years. I kept klauberi and escholtzi for some 6 or 7 years. I found escholtzi under logs in my back yard. When I say that my long-term colony dropped their tails and died after a week of AC failure, I mean it. Perhaps a difference here is that you routinely let them hit those temps gradually with the seasons, whereas I kept them at 68-70F (like the ground temps where I found them) from April onwards and they suddenly hit the high 70s (maybe even 80s).

Quote:
Well, as far as behavior, to say "Pleths" don't tame out is a pretty broad statement. I've kept aquatic Eurycea before that would come out of hiding at the sound of their enclosure lid opening like dogs to a water bowl. I currently have several Aneides and Ensatina that immediately come out from under their cover when I open their boxes, habituated (which is all tame is with any salamander) to their feeding regiment. So for the most part I'd propose that "taming" of salamanders is nothing more than habituation, with simply takes time. I think a lot of people who have kept various Pleths simply didn't have them long enough to reach this point. I beleive the enclosure set-up has bearing on this too.
When speaking about such a large group of salamanders, it's tough not not to make broad statements one way or the other. I'd agree with you for the most part, though it usually never reaches the level that an Ambystoma or Salamandrid attains, especially the terrestrials. They may not have had them long enough, but this I think only reinforces that they're not as tame or quick to tame as other groups. I've had aquatic Eurycea though that were eventually every bit as tame (unless I grabbed one!).

But here's the main part of my argument and the reason I say this about Pleths: In my experiences over the years with the people whom I've recommended Pleths to, sent my cb to, encouraged to collect, etc. have probably 90-95% of the time been disappointed with them compared to their newts or Ambystoma. And usually the gripe is behavior.



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Old 24th November 2008   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

I have to agree with Nate about their behaviour. I have quite a collection of Plethedontidae species and I have to say that collectively as a group they are very reclusive, notice I said as a group, however you are always going to have a few indviduals who will become tame and tolerate interaction. Out of the many I have the only ones I ever see out on a fairly regular basis are my Gyrinophilus sp. Granted these are just my personal observations but given the fact that so many of the family exhibit these traits its hard not to use a blanket statement like what was used to describe them.

Thats just my 0.02 worth.



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Old 24th November 2008   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

Those colors are incredible!



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Old 25th November 2008   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eurycea wilderae eye candy

i have experienced that my plethodontids are very bold and will come out of their retreats to eat right in front of me. and temp wise..... it may have been a gradual increase in temps, but for you to say that they cannot survive those temps..... i know for a fact they can. but its not worth arguing over as it is not recommended.



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Eurycea wilderae nate Plethodontids and Lungless Salamanders (Bolitoglossa, Eurycea, Plethodon, etc.) 0 10th April 2003 02:28


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