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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 10th December 2009   #1
taherman
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Default EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

I wanted to wait to post this until I at least saw some good development in the eggs...

I had an exciting Thanksgiving day. I had to come into work (one of the drawbacks of working in a zoo), but finding Pseudotriton ruber eggs more than made up for it!
Click the image to open in full size.

Roughly 50 eggs were laid on the underside of a partially submerged flat rock. The female is still attending and defending the eggs and further excavated sand and gravel from the cavity underneath. ~15 have come loose and I've collected them in deli cups, but so far most are looking good. Development can take 2-3 months in this species, and larvae take years to metamorph, so they have a LONG way to go yet...

The next day I decided to check the dark chamber of the Eurycea lucifuga enclosures. Low and behold, there must be some sort of spelerpine magic in the air, as there were well over 90 eggs scattered in the water and loosely attached to the edges of submerged rocks:
Click the image to open in full size.

This species does not attend its eggs, so I've removed ~50 of them to hatch in deli cups at a variety of temperatures and different water sources. These are developing quite rapidly and I should have a load of little cave salamander larvae in a month or two

Both of these species have been kept at the zoo for nearly 10 years with not a single egg laid previously. I made some substantial changes to their enclosures over the past year and a half however and am extremely excited that my hunches have paid off :)

If these eggs hatch we will have bred 5 different plethodontid genera at the zoo this year!

More details to come...

-Tim



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Old 10th December 2009   #2
Justin Elkins
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

That's really good news. Can you describe what changes you made to their enclosures that you feel encouraged them to reproduce?



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Old 10th December 2009   #3
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

Congrats on the Ruber eggs, quite rare!



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Old 10th December 2009   #4
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

This is very exciting to hear. Great job. What were your hunches ? And how did you induce them to breed? Awesome job!!!!!




Last edited by John; 10th December 2009 at 20:20. Reason: Capitalisation
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Old 10th December 2009   #5
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

"Thou shalt not covet thy fellow Caudata.org member's Eurycea lucifuga eggs".
I'm trying...

Well done Tim! More photos I sense.



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Old 10th December 2009   #6
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

That's quite exciting! Wow. Great job, and I hope they all hatch alright



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Old 10th December 2009   #7
Russ Cormack
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

So does this make the Toledo Zoo the caudate breeding capital of the world or what??!!



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Old 10th December 2009   #8
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

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Originally Posted by rust View Post
So does this make the Toledo Zoo the caudate breeding capital of the world or what??!!
Well, I've started planning my road trip for when the weather warms up a little!



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Old 10th December 2009   #9
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

Brilliant!
Gods, i wish people managed to reproduce P.ruber in captivity over here...this species is definitely one of my obssesions, but no CB, no P.ruber for me....

Are these in the famous (and beautiful) comunal enclosure?



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Last edited by Azhael; 11th December 2009 at 02:40.
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Old 11th December 2009   #10
taherman
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Azhael View Post
Brilliant!
Gods, i wish people managed to reproduce P.ruber in captivity over here...this species is definitely one of my obssesions, but no CB, no P.ruber for me....

Are these in the famous (and beautiful) comunal enclosure?
Unfortunately both of these breedings are off exhibit, though I'm sure I can provide a showing to interested parties :)



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Old 11th December 2009   #11
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

Tim - congrats on the breeding, that's awesome! I'm hoping you can answer the first question above - what did you change about their enclosures?



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Old 11th December 2009   #12
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

Here's a quick summary

For environmental parameters at oviposition:
P. ruber: water temp 54F, air temp 53-62F (night-day), photoperiod 9:34 light, 14:26 dark

These general environmental parameters are the same for E. lucifuga. However, the big change I made a couple months ago for this species was to set up a completely dark enclosure with ~58F water (Kentucky cave temperature) running out through a bulkhead into a lighted enclosure with seasonally varying water temp. I've seen courtship and eggs inside the females for years with lucifuga, but they would never lay. I noticed when they had eggs in them they always tried to swim upstream (which makes sense...water runs OUT of caves). Their previous setup had water running INTO the dark enclosure, which was apparently backwards in the minds of lucifuga. If they lay again next year I'd say I've definitely figured something out.

The biggest changes for the ruber were setting up an individual pair together off exhibit, planning an oviposition site for the female (more details in later posts..) and putting them through a full year of temperature cycling described below.

Both species have water trickling into their enclosures, in the ruber, and on the light side of the lucifuga this is carbon filtered city water, with temp varying seasonally from roughly 40-70F. On the dark side of the lucifuga the water is from a reservoir of the plethodontid seep exhibit which is relatively stable at 58-62F year round. Ambient air in the room is from ~36-74F, varying seasonally. Photoperiod was adjusted monthly until this October. Since then it has been is adjusted daily thanks to the fancy new Intermatic timers that have astronomical dawn/dusk cycles programmed in.

I've got more photos I'll be adding in the next few days.
-Tim



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Old 11th December 2009   #13
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Azhael View Post
Brilliant!
Gods, i wish people managed to reproduce P.ruber in captivity over here...
They have been bred in France and Germany before



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Old 11th December 2009   #14
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

Really????
Man, i always miss the good stuff. With all due respect , though, the french are REALLY secretive when it comes to this hobby....



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Old 11th December 2009   #15
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

Tim, amazing and pioneering work. I think it really goes to show that by knowing a species life history and having the right resources anything is possible. I wish there was a meaningful award to give to people who push the boundaries of captive breeding. Perhaps we should create one - the "Herman Award" .



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Old 11th December 2009   #16
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

Wow! This is really exiting! Thank you Tim, for your great efforts and for sharing results and descriptions of how you achieved them here on the forum.
Iím looking forward to updates and would love to see more photos of development and of the enclosures if possible.

Cheers / Vide



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Old 11th December 2009   #17
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

Quote:
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Perhaps we should create one - the "Herman Award" .

I like that and SO second that!

I'm not as good at this as Mark is. I wanted the salamander to be golden.
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Old 11th December 2009   #18
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

Quote:
Originally Posted by KennyDB View Post
They have been bred in France and Germany before
Hi Kenny,

Do you know if these species have been bred repeatedly in Europe or if they've been isolated cases? I'd love to compare the methods used which resulted in breeding, though I haven't been able to find any details from the events you describe. Unfortunately I can't find any access to the European journals/magazines which document many of the captive caudate accomplishments over there.

-Tim



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Old 11th December 2009   #19
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

Quote:
Originally Posted by taherman View Post
Hi Kenny,

Do you know if these species have been bred repeatedly in Europe or if they've been isolated cases? I'd love to compare the methods used which resulted in breeding, though I haven't been able to find any details from the events you describe. Unfortunately I can't find any access to the European journals/magazines which document many of the captive caudate accomplishments over there.

-Tim
Hi Tim

check pm please



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Old 12th December 2009   #20
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Default Re: EVEN more captive plethodontid breedings...

Holy cow, congrats Tim! That's awesome news. I'm assuming the lucifuga eggs are from more than one female since you got so many (one study found an average of 68 eggs from 17 females examined)? I was hoping to try a study on the oviposition of E. longicauda and/or lucifuga this winter, but couldn't get everything in place quick enough to get collecting permits in time. I also have some larvae of each species that were collected for my thesis research and I'd be happy to compare notes on husbandry and time to metamorphosis. I'm extremely interested in the reproduction of cave-associated Eurycea, and have been trying to document this in the wild with somewhat limited success so far. I'd love to talk shop if you'd be interested, but we can do that by email or private messages to avoid cluttering up this thread if you'd like. Also, there have been some recent publications on the oviposition of both E. lucifuga and P. ruber in caves that I can send along to you if you don't already have them.
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