Compiled by Jennifer Macke
How long do salamanders (or newts or axolotls) live in captivity? This is not an easy question! Longevity information is rarely recorded in scientific literature. To have even a general idea about a species' lifespan would require a lot of long-term captive care experience AND good record-keeping.
The best solid, publicly-available data of this kind come from Frank and Kate Slavens's Reptile and Amphibian Longevity Project, which contains records systematically collected from 1995-2003. Their longest record for any caudate is 40 years for an Andrias japonicus kept at the Zoological Society of London.
A long-term study of olms (Proteus anguinus) in a cave in France documented lifespans of 48-58 years, and estimated their longevity at over 100 years (see Live Science article).
Very few amphibians in captivity live to their potential age. In most cases, this is due to captive care catastrophes. All it takes is one time leaving the lid off the habitat! It's rare for anyone to care for an amphibian for 10 or 20 years and never have an accident, overheating incident, or brief period of neglect.
In the list below, I've attempted to compile as many records as possible for long-lived caudates. Note that in many cases, the animal was wild-caught, and thus the age listed is only their stay in captivity; their actual age may be much older.
Frank and Kate Slavens's Reptile and Amphibian Longevity Project. http://www.pondturtle.com/longev.html. Accessed January 2016.
Max Planck Institute Life Spans of Mammals, Birds, Amphibians, Reptiles, and Fish.
Voituron,Y., de Fraipont, M., Issartel, J., Guillaume, O., Clobert, J. Extreme lifespan of the human fish (Proteus anguinus): a challenge for ageing mechanisms. Biol. Lett., 23 February 2011, 7:105-107.
Choi, C.Q. Long-lived Salamanders Offer Clues to Aging. LiveScience.com, July 2010, Accessed June 2013.
Bogaerts S., 2013. Bejaarde salamanders bij Loeky Groenevelt. Salamanders 5:14, pp. 2-3.
Raines, B., 2014. 36-year-old Alabama Red Hills salamander discovered at Cindinnati Zoo. http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2014/10/36_year_old_alabama_red_hills.html. Accessed January 2016.
McKenna, A., 2013. Oldest salamander gives hope for endangered species. http://www.lamonitor.com/content/oldest-salamander-gives-hope-endangered-species Los Alamos Monitor Online, accessed January 2016. [Photo on Flickr]
© Caudata Culture. Posted June 2013.