Help! Small orange-ish bugs chewed up my salamander!

CosmicEscapist

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Hello from the Pacific Northwest!

I will start with this : I do not have photos of these bugs. I wanted them off of my pet ASAP and only afterwards did I realize that I should've taken the chance to document them to better identify a solution.

They were very small, thin, almost wormlike? gathering in clusters of easily dozens, clumps smaller than a dime but VERY packed, near all 4 of my salamander's limbs where he wouldn't be able to reach them. I own an Ambystoma Gracile (Northwestern Salamander) that I had recently put into a new tank. I've owned him for about 6 months and have never had any bug issues, and haven't seen these bugs before nor since.

(Details on the new tank below if it helps ID the problem...) I tried gently rinsing them off, but that didn't get many - they were stuck, so I grabbed some new latex gloves and had to push them off while I held my pet. He was very unhappy with this, haven't seen him so upset. :( Underneath, I discovered that one of his shoulders now had a chewed hole, and the other 3 limbs had a bit of irritation, but no defined cuts / holes apart from the 1. No blood as far as I can tell, but he has begun to shed, which I've never seen him do. He's not trying to get the shedding off, and it seems to only be near his limbs, definitely not one big connected sheet. He's been a little lethargic yesterday and today, not outright rejecting food but becoming pickier. He seems to be avoiding his water dish now (only wanting to have back legs / tail in water, if at all), not wanting to swim, even though he's usually very happy to do so. Not sure what to do about this. :( He's drying out more due to his refusal to stay in his pool. Since that's where he usually poops, not sure if he's doing that either. I'm misting him gently but he's not doing a lot of moving, he was very content in the new tank to go digging and hiding wherever he pleased so that could be a factor in his lethargy, too. Please help if you are able, I can grab pictures if it helps.... thank you for reading.



Tank specs, if they help -

The tank has a drainage layer at the bottom, a mesh layer, then a mix of topsoil and jungle substrate. He has a plastic dish sitting on a terracotta under-pot dish to catch spills, a piece of wood he likes to hide under, some plants including wandering jew, pothos, scotch moss... The soil had been baked, rocks boiled in hot water, same with the log and the dish.

The old tank, there were no problems. Same dirt selection, same rocks, log, dish, etc. But NO plants and NO terracotta dish. Those 2 are the only things I can think of that might not have gotten completely clean before being put in the new tank. He's back in his temporary tank while I try to figure things out - completely new dirt in there, haven't seen the bugs since then.

Would I be able to lure these bugs out by putting some meat in the tank or is that too big of a bacteria risk ???
 

Otterwoman

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I can't imagine what they might have been but they must have come from the plants, I'm thinking. I would start over with a new tank with no plants (I have one that has lived for years just fine without a plant) or a silk plant, if you like the look, and hope for his recovery.
If he has a wound that won't heal, a trip to the vet, if possible.
 
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