Creating wild setup for Tigers

Nowicki418

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My dad found a small pair of newly metamorphosized tiger salamanders underneath a pool cover. Of course they can't stay there so its not like I can just put them back where they were found.

Many times when I find a salamander he/she seems to remain in the same general area. I also love watching these guys grow up as they start out completly black ( like these two are ) and then after the first year spots start comming in.

Anyway I got an idea, what if I set up a patch of habitat for them to grow up in. Something that can be easy to acess. This way I can watch them grow up without keeping them as pets. If this works it could be a great recomendation as an alternative to WC animals. Of course I just had this idea like 5 minutes ago so there are probably a lot of flaws I haven't realized yet.

So any ideas on how to create a small patch of salamander heaven. I want it to be designed so if these two die or move away new salamanders may show up to stay. The vernal pool is nearby, should I set this up close or farther from it?

Basic plan is to loosen up some dirt and lay down tarps/old carpeting. Then move over some logs from our wood pile. Any comments? Is this a good idea?
 

Nowicki418

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With snakes, I have boards setup all around the property and even created a basking site. These boards are mostly wood but some are black tarp. With these boards I am able to easily enjoy snakes without having to spend the day searching for them. I have also found snakes under these boards that I may not found otherwise. Like the tiny secretive red belly snake. I love how sometimes I will find the same snake returning to a board for a few weeks. Hopefully by applying this to salamanders I can get similar results.

You may be wondering why I haven't had salamanders under the snake boards? Truthfully, I have but many of these boards are on an incline so snakes can easily get under them. This means that any salamander who wanders under the snake board doesn't last long before getting eaten! The salamander setup I made is pretty flat on the ground. A snake could get under one but they aren't designed to be confortable to a snake. In combination with the salamanders tendency to dig, I don't think predation will be a problem.

Unfortunatly I just learned that our slow internet is unable to even begin uploading photos. My laptops not working ( or I'd use wifi ) so I'll just have to describe what I did.

Raked a section out and pulled the few plants that were there to create a small plot of dirt. Then I laid two slabs of cardboard ( about four foot squares ) and two smaller pieces of cardboard ( about three feet by a foot ). In between them I laid down a row of logs from our wood pile that have begun to decay. These logs create an additional place for caudates to go and it anchors the cardboard so it doesn't move. The cardboard will retain moisture which amphibians will like. I know its a bit late in the year to set this up and I may have to take it apart come wintertime. But we'll see what happens.
 

Nowicki418

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Great news. Its been about a week and I found one of the salamanders I released is still living underneath my setup! I don't know if the other one will turn up again. Another cool find was one of the smallest salamander I have ever seen. A tiny blue spotted salamander with about 3/4 of an inch SVL. I didn't know blues transformed so small from larvae and at first I thought I had a baby redback salamander before I got a closer look. I really hope this little guy doesn't get eaten by a larger salamander.

I don''t want to disturb it so I will probably only check on the setup every week or so. I look forward to seeing them again or see someone new! ( of course this is the wild so maybe I won't see anything )
 

Aaran

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Dont mean to dig up an old thread but anychance on an update ! :D
 

Nowicki418

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Dont mean to dig up an old thread but anychance on an update ! :D

After reading this I went outside to check on everything. I almost always respond to feedback, keep it comming.

The cardboard is falling apart, didn't last as long as I thought. Underneath the logs and cardboard is an abundance of detrivores which I suppose is a good thing as salamanders will eat many of them. Lots of digging going on and a few holes. I've seen a small tiger salamander a few times but not directly under the board. I'd like to think a salamander is doing the digging, but lots of animals dig. There is a wood frog underneath it almost everytime though.

I've seen salamanders, although only Tiger and Blue-spotted, in the general area. I even found a blue spotted an hour before typing this. They are here just not as visable as I'd like. ( Remember I'd like a salamander board that even a non-herper could use )

Future Improvements?:

1.The ground around the board is fairly bare. Going to rake some leaves and sticks to give it a bit more cover.

2. The cardboard fell apart very quickly. A substitute is needed that is more sturdy and can survive the winter.

3. The cardboard isn't maintaining moisture like I thought it would. The area underneath the cardboard is moist but not as much as the logs. I think this is because the carboard is too thin.

4. The salamanders probably have several places to go inside their range. They won't be found in the exact same place every time. I think I need several near idenical setups in the area. This way as they move from place to place chances are there will a salamander under at least on of the settups.
 

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What about adapting a small kids pool? Cut circles in bottom and then put leaf matter and logs inside.
Maybe even a few ground level entry points in the side of the pool. I dunno maybe not a good idea but just a thought haha. I'm intrigued on what you have set up. Able to take pictures?

I wonder if placing a clear see through tub (the ones for storage) upside down with logs and leaves and stick under neath might be an option also. It would definitely be humid and retain moisture underneath cause the sun would go in and not come out as easily, like a mini greenhouse. Also just a thought. Good luck! :] I wish Florida had a lot of wild salamanders but it is just way too hot here. I haven't seen one since I've moved here and I've searched several times, I even live behind a big stream with tons of fallen logs and rotting matter but no salamanders. Maybe I'll have more luck when it starts cooling off here in a couple months.
 

Nowicki418

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I have a large broken clear plastic container. Yes it probably would maintain the moisture well but I don't think they would enjoy the heat produced. Although, a snake would love a mini-greenhouse and I could use it to settup another snake board.

totallyrad you are on to something with that kiddie pool idea. Instead of making salamander boards why not make a salamander house. Toad houses, bat houses and bird houses work fine so why not caudates? Its genius!!!

Like your kiddie pool idea. What if a structure similar to a kiddie pool was made with fake logs and such all connected by a transparent ceiling. Then on top of the entire structure you have a hinged "trapdoor". Sunnilight wouldn't get in and the caudates would feel safe. Then you can simply "open the door" and behind a transparent layer you can see all the salamanders underneath!

Keep up the feedback everyone!

By the way, how do you insert pictures into a post? I have slow internet here and I click the icon that says "insert image" and nothing happens. Is this because of my internet or what? Is there any other way to insert pictures?

yes, I've double clicked, hit "open in new window", reentered the URL, refreshed the page, and copy/paste.
 

totallyrad

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i just use html code and upload my pictures to a host site like photobucket or something like that then
grab the link to the picture and put [ IMG ] picture url [ /IMG ] with no spaces and that works fine.
Not sure why you're not able to upload pictures through the forum though, could be your connection.

And yeah I think it would work with the kiddie pool with a little work. Good luck :]
 

Aaran

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I was thinking of idea's for this too but only thing i could think of was a black tub with air holes in the sides with a mini habbitat underneath with entrances, although im new to salamanders so wouldnt really know if it could werk :)
 

Nowicki418

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Thanks for the information on uploading pictures. Here are some I took as I made the original piece. There have been changes since these photos were taken though.
 

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totallyrad

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lookin good, i'm sure if you threw some leaves and etc over all of this it would probably work better for them.
 

l0uiswh0

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This is so awesome to read... there are only 6 native amphibian species in the rainy UK, it's like a window onto a whole other world reading about these exploits :D
 

Nowicki418

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Got any updates on this?

Its completely covered by leaves and sticks now. I have some drywall/cardboard in the basement which I plan on adding to it come spring. I found a blue-spotted salamander the other day ( so I know they are still awake ) but I haven't ripped this specific site up in a while. I don't plan on touching it until after the snow melts.

As for the salamander house idea. I'm working on building a prototype and testing it out by making it an addition to my tiger salamander tank.

Sorry I haven't been on here in a while. I've been busy with an independent study on hibernating frogs and other school stuff. It's good to know you guys are interested in this, I'll post some blueprints of the prototype as soon as I can.
 

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Thanks! Sounds like fun. Maybe I'll try something similar sometime. :)
 

Nowicki418

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I may be restating some parts of this but anyway: What I plan on doing now is taking a plastic bowl and cutting some holes in the sides as enterences/exits. The holes being slim so they much partially "crawl" underneath and make them feel secure. The inside would be filled with bark and leaves that are displayed in a way so that once the top of the "house" is uncovered the salamander is clearly visible underneath.

I've been thinking a lot about how much moisture a "salamander house" would need to retain. ( I know it really depends on the species but maybe there is some kind of... median )
Should I put a transparent layer in between the removable top to retain moisture? Should I put some sort of tarp or spongy material underneath or on the sides?

This wouldn't matter so much in as a part of my salamander tank ( as the conditions are already maintained ) but I've been thinking about how the weather may affect this.
 

Nowicki418

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This year we got some very odd weather, as in it very hot. The vernal pond on the property dried up by late June and I'm yet to even see a salamander yet this year ( well I've seen them but not at home ). I apologize for kind of abandoning this thread but with no salamanders to be found, not much point in maintaining the boards or spending money on the "house" I was going to make. Hopefully they will bounce back, but I'm going away to college soon anyway.
 

Wildebeestking

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That's disappointing. We're going through a semi-drought here in Michigan too, so I haven't seen any Salamanders either.
 
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