Question: New to salamander care! I just need to know if I’m doing things right

jitterbug

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I just today got my Marbled Salamander (Ambystoma opacum) shipped from a trusted reptile store and she is the cutest thing ever! I’ve done my research, but I just want to make sure I’m doing everything right. Besides mammals, I own a fish now, and I’ve owned a herbit crab, a turtle, a bearded dragon, and a leopard gecko (who is now a class pet for an art class!) This is my first amphibian, and I’m kind of nervous.

It has dark grey bands so I’m inclined to believe that “it” is a “she”. She lives in a 10 gallon tank with coconut fiber substrate and sphagnum moss. There’s one wide but shallow water dish, a large plant that provide shade and hiding, and one of those reptile logs. I also mist the cage with amphibian treated water (I put one drop in the water) and also a fan to keep the vivarium cool.

Beyond that, I’ve read that it’s normal for salamanders not to eat when they’re first adjusting to their new settings. Is this true? She didn’t eat when I offered her bloodworms, but I don’t know if that’s because she’s still adjusting, or because they don’t eat dead insects. I’ve read in from different sources that they will eat dead insects if you trick them, and others that they will not. Regardless, if she doesn’t start accepting food I will go out and get live if necessary.

Anyways, I was just checking to see if I need improvements anywhere because this has gotten me very nervous. I’ve picked her up a few times after washing my hands with cold water to make sure she was okay, and she tolerated that for only a little bit. She’s now burrowing in the coconut fiber. I just need to know if everything is alright so I don’t feel the need to constantly check on her and potentially stress her out. Thanks all!
 

jitterbug

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Update: She won't move at all when I'm around anymore. Is this normal Marbled Salamander behavior? I read they were shy but I don't know... I try not to pick her up but I can't tell if she's just keeping still or dead. I really don't want to stress her out but I'm so anxious over this, I barely slept all. Is there a way to tell if she's still alive w/out picking her up or disturbing her?

However, another question now that it's relevant to the situation, how do I know when to feed her? Will she come out? She's always under moss or in the dirt, and I don't want to dig her out and stress her out more. Should I just wait a few days? This has been really stressful for me and I just want to know if I'm making any mistakes.
 

Methos5K

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Alright a few things... First. Yes, it being a mole salamander that is not a Tiger, it will likely hide from you all the time. That's just what they do. Bloodworms are not a good staple diet, and most likely will always be refused by a terrestrial animal. You want to feed whole or cut nightcrawlers or earthworms (not Red Wigglers). Ditch the sphagnum moss, not good for salamanders. Mix Coco Fiber with organic top soil (no additives/fertz/anything); some cork bark pieces and a water dish. Keep moist, but not wet. It still may be stressed from moving and may not eat yet, but it will. Handling and digging it out will just cause further stress. Give the animal lots of time to get use to its new surroundings. Cheers!
 

jitterbug

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Thanks for the response! I removed all the moss and put her in the dark to avoid stressing her out further. She hasn't moved at all and is just half in the dirt with her tail curled to her side like a spiral. Is this bad? I'm very worried at this point. I'm going to leave her alone now, though.
 

joemomma1016

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All good points by Methos5k. Yes, male salamanders like to dig and live in dirt. Over time it may come out and greet you when it's feeding time, maybe. Also just to make sure the fan isn't pointed in or on the salamander.
 

bhill368

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I think that, being new and caring, you may be a little paranoid! haha! I have mole species as well. They are not social what so ever! Mine do not like be fed, they feed themselves when I am not around. I do my best to keep a "miniature ecosystem" going in my enclosure. I keep sow bugs as a clean up crew and as a food source. I also give fruit flies to be sure. Sometimes I will go weeks without seeing my little ladies! If you have a lot of hides like I do, they will not be seen often, but if following the proper steps and making the corrections that you did, your little marbled friend will be more than happy!
 
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