Help with new spotted Salamander

Cam_Mears

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I recently wild caught a fairly large 4-5 inch Spotted Salamander (Who I named Anthony), and so far he has just been buried under the substrate that we have for him. This is my first amphibian that I have had as a pet, but so far I feel as though I’ve done a good job with his terrarium set up. As spotted Salamanders are terrestrial, I have set up Anthony’s cage up where he has a 10 Gal Terrarium with about 3 inches of organic potting soil (Chemical free) and then another inch of coconut husk substrate on top of that. As for hides, I included a rock cave as well as a half hollowed log for him to go under. The only problem I’ve had is that, I’ve had Anthony for about 3 days now and I’ve been trying desperately to get him to eat/even just open his mouth. However, it’s to no avail. I’ve been hearing more and more stuff about Wild caught specimens sometimes refusing to eat so I’m very confused, what should I do??? I’ve been trying to feed him live night crawlers as well as freeze dried crickets but he won’t even consider either. Also, I’m not sure if this is normal or if it’s lethargic but he will just burrow far down into the substrate and not move for literally entire days!! Just concerned about him. His Terrarium temp is a cool 60 degrees with 70% Humidity and I’ve made sure to mist him daily!! Any help would be GREATLY appreciated!
 

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Herpin Man

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I'm going to cheat a little bit here and copy/paste, as I just made the same suggestions in another post regarding a tiger salamander. The information is applicable to your situation as well:
Although tigers are pretty hardy, 75 is too warm. I would try to locate the tank somewhere cooler, such as a basement. I would also create a "moisture gradient" in the substrate. Keep one end relatively moist, the other end dry. Let the salamander burrow where it pleases. For hides, flat bark that they can burrow under is ideal- half logs are a bit too open to provide security, although they may use them. Partially burying the log would make it more secure. A layer of leaf litter on top of the substrate would help immensely.
For feeding, I would completely cease feeding mealworms. They aren't very nutritious, and are enabling the salamander to refuse other foods. I would start by dumping in a few small earthworms- avoid red wigglers. They'll usually live until they are eaten, so don't remove them. Other foods to try include isopods, dubia, and crickets. For a reluctant feeder, smaller is better. Do not sit there watching for the salamander to eat, and do not remove the prey items after a few minutes. Instead, mist the tank before you go to bed, then feed. Leave the prey items in overnight. Doing so won't hurt the salamander, although I would not overwhelm it with crickets. They have been known, on occasion, to chew on herps. It isn't common. But tigers love crickets, so by all means, use them.

One more suggestion- ditch the cypress mulch.
 

Cam_Mears

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I'm going to cheat a little bit here and copy/paste, as I just made the same suggestions in another post regarding a tiger salamander. The information is applicable to your situation as well:
Although tigers are pretty hardy, 75 is too warm. I would try to locate the tank somewhere cooler, such as a basement. I would also create a "moisture gradient" in the substrate. Keep one end relatively moist, the other end dry. Let the salamander burrow where it pleases. For hides, flat bark that they can burrow under is ideal- half logs are a bit too open to provide security, although they may use them. Partially burying the log would make it more secure. A layer of leaf litter on top of the substrate would help immensely.
For feeding, I would completely cease feeding mealworms. They aren't very nutritious, and are enabling the salamander to refuse other foods. I would start by dumping in a few small earthworms- avoid red wigglers. They'll usually live until they are eaten, so don't remove them. Other foods to try include isopods, dubia, and crickets. For a reluctant feeder, smaller is better. Do not sit there watching for the salamander to eat, and do not remove the prey items after a few minutes. Instead, mist the tank before you go to bed, then feed. Leave the prey items in overnight. Doing so won't hurt the salamander, although I would not overwhelm it with crickets. They have been known, on occasion, to chew on herps. It isn't common. But tigers love crickets, so by all means, use them.

One more suggestion- ditch the cypress mulch.
Thanks for the suggestions!!! I didn’t know about the “half-dry/half-moist” thing with the substrate/ potting soil. The set up we have has 3 inches of potting soil completely thru the tank and then on half of it I have another layer of the Cyprus mulch on top of the potting soil. The other half is just straight up potting soil. Why should I remove the Cyprus mulch, is that harmful to them??? Also I will take your advice and half bury the half log. I have several night crawlers released into the terrarium, so I’ll just wait and see what happens.
 

Herpin Man

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Sorry for the brief reply earlier. My teenage daughter needed me to go someplace with her, and was impatiently standing next to me.
I was under intense pressure to hurry up.
I like a mix of organic topsoil and coconut fiber as a substrate. Cypress mulch is splintery, and I am concerned about potential injury to the salamander's delicate skin, and the dangers if it is ingested. There is also evidence that it may be mildly toxic to humans- I have not studied this. With salamanders being especially sensitive to toxicity, better safe than sorry. I also recommend live plants. They will add security, and help retain humidity.
Hiding for days at a time is normal.
Stick with small, live, moving prey. Small earthworms (not red wigglers) are better than large nightcrawlers. Try European nightcrawlers, they are smaller. All else being equal, small prey is more likely to be taken than large prey. Dead or non-moving prey, such as freeze dried crickets, are useless. Spotted salamanders are shy. Place the prey in the tank, and leave. Resist the urge to poke or prod it, dig it up, etc. The best time to feed is at night. Mist the enclosure to encourage activity, dump the prey in, and go to bed. Be patient. Although as a new captive, it may be uneasy in its new environment, it still knows how to hunt and eat.
 

Cam_Mears

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No worries at all, I’m thankful for the reply!!! As a rookie, any help at ALL is appreciated! I’m gonna go get some coconut fiber tomorrow and exchange out the Cyprus mulch for it ASAP, as well as going to exchange the large night crawlers that I have now with some smaller worms. I already added some live moss and a flat piece of bark for additional hides and I’m going to take your advice and just trust that he’ll know how to take care of himself!! Once again, I appreciate all the advice/help you’ve given me!!
 

Ohmy

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I haven't seen my blue spotted rascals eat in months but they are both strong with big portly bellies so I know they are eatin' something!

Your salamander might just be shy. You've gotten some good advice about a few little enclosure modifications above, but overall it sounds like you're doing everything right. Just relax... They are kinda like snakes and sometimes go a while without a meal just fine. I would definitely expect this from a recent wild caught too by the way.
 
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