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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #1
sammiethes
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Default Sick tiger salamander?

Hello.

I bought my son a tiger salamander last August. Initially he had a very good appetite and grew quickly. He would follow me around the room in the tank and climb up the sides as he associated people and their presence with food so much.

Eventually his appetite lessened and he started to dig. When we first got him he would sit on the top of the substrate or on or in some sphagnum moss. The more digging he did and the more time he spent underground the less he ate. Now he has no interest in food and hasn't eaten anything in about 5 weeks.

He looks healthy enough on the rare occasion that I get to see him. He's not skinny and has plenty of strength and energy when it comes to digging. Most of the time he digs under his water bowl and stays there. I think he's only come out twice willingly in the last 4 weeks.

Initially I thought he was constipated from eating too many meal worms. In the whole time we've had him I've only twice noticed any signs of him defecating. However, now I'm starting to think it's the substrate which is probably a little acidic. A man who was selling them in his shop recommended that I use the sort of soil that you use in heavily planted aquariums. It's called Amazonia II and I believe it is slightly acidic. Could it be this? It's described as natural soil but I guess it could have too many nutrients in it as well as a low pH. I'm starting to think that it's not a coincidence that his loss of appetite started at the same time he started to spend too much time underground.

Regardless I'm probably going to change the substrate soon using a large block of coconut fiber. Just looking for input and opinions.

Thanks for reading the wall of text. Hope someone can help.

S.



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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #2
Jennewt
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Default Re: Sick tiger salamander?

I have a couple of ideas, but no certain answer.

When tiger sals first come into captivity, they may have been underfed for a long time, so his initial appetite may have been partly due to this. But not eating for 5 weeks is certainly not normal.

I would recommend trying live earthworms (hand-fed, so they don't end up loose in the soil) and crickets. Mealworms aren't easily digested, and they aren't very good nutritionally.

Another factor might be the change in weather. In warmer weather, they are more likely to try to dig down deep to avoid the heat. If you give a large water bowl, he might go into it at this time of year.

Acidic substrates aren't good, although it seems unlikely that the soil you have is so acidic as to be a problem. Coco fiber is good and pH-neutral. The only downside is that it tends to stick on their skin. I find that mixing coco with topsoil works better than coco by itself.



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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #3
sammiethes
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Default Re: Sick tiger salamander?

Many thanks for the reply.

Temperature was an issue when I bought him. I worried that the summers in Hong Kong would be too hot. Last year at this time it was up to 95 degrees. Because of that I took him to work in April as it is cooler. There's no one home in the daytime Monday to Saturday so no air-con. It's the opposite at work. When I arrive at work in the morning the temp is around 73 just above the substrate. It drops to 70 with air-con during the day.

When we got him he would eat meal worms and crickets but not a lot. Feeding him small pieces of red meat and defrosted frozen shrimp (in moderation) seemed to stimulate his appetite and he was voracious. After a while however he would only eat live food with a lot of movement. I also added roaches to his diet and initially he liked them. All I can do now is put live food in his tank and hope for the best. No signs of any interest though.

I did try earthworms but this was after he lost his appetite and he showed no interest in them.

I have coco fiber here. I may take out fifty percent of the soil and mix the two together.

Thanks again!



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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #4
sammiethes
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Default Re: Sick tiger salamander?

So I replaced most of the substrate with coconut fiber. When I returned the salamander to the tank he spent half of the day roaming around inspecting everything. He seems extremely strong and healthy. Doesn't look sick at all. After that he returned to under the water bowl and hasn't emerged since.

Still no interest in food regardless of what it is. Almost 6 weeks since he's eaten

Maybe soon.

S.



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