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Anyone have success with Plethodon shermani and Hemidactylium scutatum?

This is a discussion on Anyone have success with Plethodon shermani and Hemidactylium scutatum? within the Plethodontids and Lungless Salamanders (Bolitoglossa, Eurycea, Plethodon, etc.) forums, part of the Species, Genus & Family Discussions category; Hello, I'm an undergraduate researcher at the University of South Florida in a lab where I am in charge of ...

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 29th September 2009   #1 (permalink)
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Default Anyone have success with Plethodon shermani and Hemidactylium scutatum?

Hello,

I'm an undergraduate researcher at the University of South Florida in a lab where I am in charge of P. shermani and Hemidactylium scutatum.

Recently, the H.s. have had an incredibly rapid death rate. I've been successfully keeping reptiles and amphibians in captivity for a good number of years and am quite shocked that this is happening. So far only two of the P.s. have went, so hopefully the rest continue to do well.

My professor and I are at a loss on what could be going on. . .


These particular animals were collected back in March (before I came to the lab) from North Carolina.

They are all kept in deli cups large enough to accommodate all of their needs. In each deli cup a moist sponge is place with them that is cleaned twice a week.

We had thought that our water may have been a problem, so we began using deionized water with kosher salt. This relieved some deaths for about a week and a half, then the H.s. began dying again.

Each salamander is fed an appropriate number of crickets once a week.

The temperature in the room is in the mid 60's, and the humidity mid 70's.

If anybody may be able to figure out what's going on based off this we'd greatly appreciate it. Any info that I may have left out just ask.



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Old 29th September 2009   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Anyone have success with Plethodon shermani and Hemidactylium scutatum?

Couple quick questions. First, I am curious as to why you add kosher salt to their water. Secondly, are you gut-loading and dusting the crickets with vitamins and calcium before you feed them to the salamanders?



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Old 29th September 2009   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Anyone have success with Plethodon shermani and Hemidactylium scutatum?

We were thinking the pH in the water may have been off kilter. Professor switched to the deionized to avoid that problem, I believe the kosher salt is added to enrich the water.

Hadn't thought of gutloading the crickets (I deal mainly with snakes at home). Could the staple of crickets be offsetting a nutritional balance?



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Old 30th September 2009   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Anyone have success with Plethodon shermani and Hemidactylium scutatum?

Here are a few thoughts:

I would not use sponge as a substrate - it can provide an excellent environment for bacteria and fungi to breed in a moist environment. In anecdotal reports, it has been suggested that captivity of WC sals weakens their immune system through stress and may allow environmental bacteria to infect the animals in their compromised state. The goal is to reduce exposure to environmental bacteria - you want a reasonably sterile set-up. I would use unbleached paper towels. Moistened paper toweling is commonly used in housing plethodontids, with the paper toweling being changed every few days. This provides for a more sterile environment.

Moisten the paper toweling with either: tap water that has been treated with dechlorinators and dechloraminators used for treating fish aquarium water; carbon filtered tap water; or, bottled spring water that has a near neutral pH (e.g., Poland Springs).

If you think your water pH is 'off kilter' - test it. It should be as close as possible to a neutral pH.
Plethodontids (as I think I recall are especially sensitive and negatively affected by low pH).
Get rid of the salt in the substrate....these are not marine animals.

If feeding crickets, they need to be gut loaded and every few feedings dusted with a high quality calcium/vitD powder and vitamins.



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Old 2nd October 2009   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Anyone have success with Plethodon shermani and Hemidactylium scutatum?

We've had plenty of success with H. scutatum, but never kept shermani (though have kept other large Plethodon). Is there a need for these animals to be kept in such spartan enclosures, and for what purpose are you keeping them? They can probably live on damp paper towels for years, and much less labor intensive setups can be accomplished with a little bit of initial effort. I would not reccommend either the salt or the sponge setup. Are there any visible lesions or symptoms prior to death?

-Tim



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Old 16th May 2011   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Anyone have success with Plethodon shermani and Hemidactylium scutatum?

We feed our crickets ground up cat food to load them up with vitamins! We also give the salamanders a moist paper towel substrate plus another paper towel crumpled and moistened for environmental enrichment. We only feed and change once a week and have never had a problem in the 2 years I've kept shermani.



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