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Plethodon cinereus questions

This is a discussion on Plethodon cinereus questions within the Plethodontids and Lungless Salamanders (Bolitoglossa, Eurycea, Plethodon, etc.) forums, part of the Species, Genus & Family Discussions category; Hi everyone, I am new to keeping P. Cinereus (I got 3 little leadbacks about a week ago), and having ...

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 May 2010   #1 (permalink)
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Default Plethodon cinereus questions

Hi everyone,

I am new to keeping P. Cinereus (I got 3 little leadbacks about a week ago), and having read through the species care sheet here and through many of the older posts, I still have several questions about the little guys.

1. Setup & Cleaning: I have the leadbacks set up in a plastic terrarium with a tight-fitting lid roughly approximate to the size of a 5-gallon aquarium. I have tried to mimic their natural environment in the setup - see pic attached.Click the image to open in full size. The substrate is mixed top soil, coconut fiber, and earth from the forest; leaf litter; partially decayed log pieces from the forest; pine cone; clay flower pot that is mostly buried in the substrate; clay flower pot basin to use as feeding dish for chopped earthworms. They seem to be enjoying the variety of cover and also appear to have been digging out burrows under the logs. My concerns are:
- The care sheet seems to suggest that the setup should be cleaned about once a month. But how extensively does it need to be cleaned? i.e. Is it sufficient to remove just the top centimeter or so of the topsoil, or should it all be replaced? (I am worried about disturbing their terrain & burrows too much, but want their environment to be appropriately clean). Is there anything in particular I can do to help their environment be as self-sustaining as possible?

2. Feeding/Behaviour: So far, my leadbacks are incredibly shy and elusive. I have had some luck watching them at night with a dim flashlight (the first flashlight I tried was too bright and scared them), but they burrow away deep under the logs and leaf litter in the terrarium during the day. This has made feeding difficult. So far I been leaving chopped earthworms out in the evening, but they don't seem to be getting eaten. I have also tried to offer them earthworm pieces with tweezers, but they don't seem interested or become frightened. Should I be concerned? I know that there are probably lots of tiny insects and mites in the leaf litter at the moment which they may be eating, but I am worried about what to do when this natural food supply runs out. Are they likely to become more "visible" over time? (Is this normal shyness, or adjustment jitters?)

3. Sexing: I understand that males are distinguished by an enlarged nasolabial groove & mental gland. Does anyone have a picture of what this looks like in practice? I have seen the pic of the mental gland on the Caudata Culture site, but are their pics out there of the difference in the nasolabial groove?

Ok, sorry about the length of this post. I would appreciate any insight or suggestions that anyone out there might have! Thank you!



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Old 22nd May 2010   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plethodon Cinereus questions

I think you will need to find sources of small live food, such as crickets, fruit flies, whiteworms, etc. You could replace the leaf litter often and get microfoods that way, but it won't work in winter, and may not be enough.

In this type of setup, I wouldn't worry about cleaning per se. The tiny amount of waste that they produce will break down naturally.



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Old 22nd May 2010   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plethodon Cinereus questions

1. With a small naturalistic setup like you have you really don't need to clean it but maybe once every 6 months. Even then it's not really necessary.

2. P. cinereus are fond of small prey items like springtails, fruit flies, pea bettles, pinhead crickets, etc. Just throw these food items in the tank right before you turn the lights out, they'll eat them once it gets dark. Once the get adjusted to captivity they'll start to feed during the daylight hours. A light fixture with a red bulb will also make it easier for you to observe them at night without disturbin them. Just make sure it is set far enough from the tank to not add any heat.



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Old 28th May 2010   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plethodon Cinereus questions

The Cinereus do seem to be getting a bit more outgoing. One of them finally decided to accept chopped earthworm from tweezers yesterday!

I've been looking into getting springtails - I have found some in the garden under stones, but they are very difficult to catch due to their size. Does anyone know of a way to trap them?



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Old 29th May 2010   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plethodon Cinereus questions

Hi, firedreams.

Perhaps you could use the Berlese system (without alcool !) to get wild living springtails out of forest litter or garden compost.

Another way to get cinereus less secretive is frequently giving them fruitflies.



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Old 29th May 2010   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plethodon cinereus questions

How exactly does the Berlese system work? Googling turned up large and expensive devices, but i'm assuming there is a simpler version?



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Old 31st May 2010   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plethodon Cinereus questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by firedreams View Post
I've been looking into getting springtails - I have found some in the garden under stones, but they are very difficult to catch due to their size. Does anyone know of a way to trap them?
I will remove the top 1 inch of dirt and put it in another container to start a permanent culture. About an hour before I need to feed the salamanders I will put a mushroom top into the springtail culture. That way when I am ready to feed I just remove the mushroom and shake the springtails off into the salamanders tank.



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Old 9th June 2010   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plethodon cinereus questions

Justin -

I followed your suggestion and am trying to start a culture. What sort of food do you recommend adding? At the moment I am keeping the culture under the stairs with my worm bin (air conditioner space, ~+20C). Is this okay, or should it be kept in the fridge?

Thanks for all the help!



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Old 9th June 2010   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plethodon cinereus questions

In fact, for a Berlese system, you only need :
- a large funnel ; a large plastic bottle whith the bottm cut may be convenient,
- a small recipient with a bit of substrate (to get them alive) or alcool (to get them dead).
- a lamp, placed above the funnel.

The system is efficient, but the results depend on the richness of the substrate you put in the funnel, of course.



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Old 9th June 2010   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Plethodon cinereus questions

My cultures are kept at room temperature and are fed bits of bread, few scrap vegetable pieces, but mostly flake fish food.



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