Red salamander (Pseudotriton ruber)

maxygus

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I just got one of these! I'm not usually in approval of keeping wild caught animals but I was given this one so my hands are kind of tied. I'm excited though! I've wanted one of these for the longest time, they are striking and fascinating creatures.

Anyway, are there any keeping tips anyone can offer? And success with certain step up themes (I.e. terrestrial, semi aquatic, mostly aquatic)?
Also food items? I've loaded his container with baby roaches and small worms. I haven't seen him eat anything but he's pretty meaty so I'm not concerned about it. Although I'd like to add some more variety to his diet.

Many thanks!
 

Sith the turtle

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This, if I remember correctly, is one of the harder species to keep in captivity, due to their stream-dwelling nature. I'd recommend reading as much care information exists for this species, and trying to replicate it as much as possible. Diet wise, I'd imagine earthworms would still be a good staple. Here's some good guides to get you started:

Caudata Culture Articles - Pseudotriton

Caudata Culture Species Entry - Desmognathus - Blackbelly and Shovelnose

Caudata Culture Species Entry - Eurycea - Two-lined and Junaluska

Quote from this thread: http://www.caudata.org/forum/f46-be.../66810-looking-care-sheet-red-salamander.html

I don't have a care sheet, nor have I raised red salamanders, but I do have some experience with them in the wild. They are almost always found in or near cool (40-60 F), clear water, with rocky or muddy substrate, usually near springs, seeps, wet caves, or small streams. They feed on various small invertebrates and on smaller salamanders.

I suggest you make sure you can keep the cage at or below 70 F and humid, and keep a supply of very clean water available at all times. It need not be deep water. Caresheets for Eurycea, Gyrinophilus, or Desmognathus species should all be very close, as Pseudotriton share their habitat preferences.

Pseudotriton hide under slabs of stone or moss, or bury in muck. They deposit eggs underneath stones or in cavities; the eggs may be above or below the water level.
I do hope you can successfully raise this animal, as they are beautiful.

(P.S. I know I linked guides to un-related species, but they occupy the same environment, and need the same care as those species. Again, I would learn the habitat all of those species live in and try to replicate it as much as possible. Thanks for reading! :happy:)
 

Cloppy

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I kept mine in a 10 gallon with a air tube sticking slightly out of a gravel bank, it provides good current. I fed it isopods and earthworms.
 

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I know someone who gets them to breed every year, he keeps them in in a rubbermaid container with broken clay pots in the bottom, a bubbler, and a floating cork island.
 

PDONTnAMBY

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Congratulations! Reds are my favorite. I’ve had a pair (I think 1.1!) of northern reds for ~1.5 years, and they’ve been hardy and entertaining in a variety of setups and conditions.

For the first 4ish months in my care (during which time one transformed), the reds were housed in a ~4G critter keeper; then, for the next ~15 months they were housed in a series of three 10G tanks (all very different styles); finally, on Friday I moved them into a 20G tall I’d been working on for several months. These enclosures have ranged in various parameters, from 50 to 73 degrees F; from 0.5” to 7” water depth; from cascade-style waterfalls and Whisper filters to bubble stones to still water; and from fully aquatic to lushly planted riparian with elaborate background. In all these tanks, my reds have been active with excellent appetites, and have shown no signs of illness. Here’s a rundown of the various tanks’ parameters, along with some miscellaneous facts like tankmates, diet, habits, etc.

1. 4G critter keeper (4 months)
a. Life history: one metamorph and one late larva (likely ~2-2.5 years), both ~2.75”-3” TL (larva transformed after about 3 months, at ~3” TL).
b. Tankmates: two springs, both late larva (likely ~2.5-3 years, ~3.25-3.5” TL).
c. Water: directly from rural well; temp from 50 to 70 F (basement, ice frequently floated for cooling); depth 1.5”-2”; pH ~7.5.
d. Filtration: bubble stone only.
e. Diet: ~50/50 store-bought blackworms and small nightcrawlers + pieces; occasional Gammarus scuds from local creek.
f. Tank layout: bottom small (0.25”-1”) river rocks and sand, with ~2”-5” river rocks for cover; small moss-covered driftwood piece extending ~2” above water level. No background.
g. Behavior notes: Generally stayed in water (metamorph would occasionally stay under moss above water for up to several days at a time). No adverse interactions with spring salamanders, besides occasional tug-of-wars over worms.​
2. 10G #1 (1 month)
a. Life history: both metamorphs-juveniles, ~3”-3.25” TL.
b. Tankmates: same as above, plus several medium to large two-lined (none eaten) and small fish (none eaten).
c. Water: directly from rural well; same temperature as previously; depth ~4”; pH ~7.5
d. Filtration: Whisper 10i filter running waterfall, set up in-tank.
e. Diet: small nightcrawlers + pieces; occasional woodlice from backyard.
f. Tank layout: bottom small river rocks with larger river rocks for cover; 3D background/land area/waterfall pink insulation foam covered with DryLok.
g. Behavior notes: Moved freely between land and water, often hiding under rocks or in tight crevices on land/waterfall area. Really liked dark area where the filter for the waterfall was hidden.
h. …This tank did not survive my move watertight, so it had to be ditched!​
3. 10G #2 (~8 months)
a. Life history: both juveniles; grew from ~3.25” TL to ~4” TL over 8 months.
b. Tankmates: same two spring sallies (both morphed at ~6-7 months & ~4.25” TL), plus several small fish. Initially the two-lines from the previous tank were in as well, but one of the reds soon consumed a mid-sized two-lined salamander with extreme prejudice, so the rest were removed.
c. Filtration/water flow: Whisper 10i set up in-tank.
d. Water: treated city water; temperature 65-73 F in late summer (with occasional spikes up to even 76, though no longer than ~10 hours; ice packs frequently floated for cooling) and 55-65 in winter and spring; depth ~7”; pH ~6.5.
e. Diet: small nightcrawlers + pieces; redworms (definitely preferred nightcrawlers, but never shunned redworms to the point of getting skinny).
f. Tank layout: Bottom pea gravel with 3”-6” river rocks for cover; small driftwood piece extending ~1” above water level. No background.
g. Behavior notes: Almost never interacted with fish in entire 8 months. Reds used wood piece occasionally, and so did springs (occasionally even before morphing), but both were primarily aquatic.
h. …Toward the end of this spring, it became clear that I would not be able to keep this tank <75 F (even at night), so the salamanders were moved to another 10G in my air-conditioned bedroom.​
4. 10G #3 (~5 months)
a. Life history: both juveniles to sub-adults; grew from ~4” to ~4.25” and became much stockier (especially the presumptive female).
b. Tankmates: same two springs (grew from ~4.5”-4.75” to ~5.5” in 5 months).
c. Filtration/water flow: none
d. Water: filtered & treated city water; temperature 60-65 at night and 65-75 during day (depending on whether AC ran). AC was run, at minimum, every night. Depth ~0.5”-0.75”; pH ~6-6.5. 20-30% water changes about every other week.
e. Diet: nearly entirely nightcrawlers
f. Tank layout: bare bottom with 8-10 large (4”-7”) river rocks and slate pieces, at least half of which jutted above the water level and were covered with long-fiber sphagnum, java moss, live land mosses, and ferns. Lots of java moss in the water, and moderate amounts of sphagnum and detritus.
g. Behavior notes: initially spent nearly all time underwater beneath rocks; eventually came to spend ~1/2 of time hiding beneath moss above water. Still no adverse interactions with spring salamanders. D E V O U R E D even large nightcrawler pieces, far more aggressively than the springs, which were now over 1” longer. Both reds and springs exclusively took food in the water, despite spending a decent amount of time on land.​
5. 20G tall (<1 week)
a. Life history: both sub-adults; ~4.25”
b. Tankmates: same two springs, sub-adults at ~5.5”
c. Filtration/water flow: 70 gph pump running waterfall + Penn Plax submersible 10G filter for filtration and water flow.
d. Water: filtered & treated city water; temperature 55-60 at night and 60-70 during day. Depth ~4”; pH ~6.5
e. Diet: Have not fed yet
f. Tank layout: bottom lined with slate pieces and medium-sized (~1”-2”) river rocks, with larger river rocks for cover. Several large river rocks breaking water with moss. Hard foam fake-rock piece from reptile store hides waterfall fixture and serves as cascade waterfall. 3D background made from pieces of slate and Great Stuff Pond & Foam, covered w/ 3M Doodlebug scrubber pads and a moss slurry. Various mosses, ferns and spikemosses planted throughout. (I’m hoping to get pictures of this up soon, especially since I promised and never delivered picture threads of the first abortive waterfall 10G and a 55G corner I had set up for A. maculatum.)
g. Behavior notes: Annoyingly, all salamanders except the presumptive male red immediately found a crevice I thought didn’t exist and have hidden there for the last several days. (Makes sense I guess, given how troglophilic both species can be.) Fortunately, I just had to scrape away a bit of the black paint to expose their little hiding spot; I’ll use a bit of black contact paper and tape to make it dark but accessible.
So yeah, there’s my account of life with P. ruber! Like several other people here, my experience has led me to believe that reds (and springs!) are far hardier w/r/t water temperature and movement than the traditional wisdom suggests. That said, both species *do* almost uniformly inhabit cold-to-cool, relatively uniform-temperature microhabitats in the wild, so keeping yours nice and cool is certainly the safest route.

Oh, and a final word: do *not* put any smaller salamanders in with your red unless you want them eaten in a hurry. That said, if you ever find yourself with excess axolotl larva and no buyers, your red will be very happy to solve that problem for you!
 

maxygus

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Congratulations! Reds are my favorite. I’ve had a pair (I think 1.1!) of northern reds for ~1.5 years, and they’ve been hardy and entertaining in a variety of setups and conditions.

For the first 4ish months in my care (during which time one transformed), the reds were housed in a ~4G critter keeper; then, for the next ~15 months they were housed in a series of three 10G tanks (all very different styles); finally, on Friday I moved them into a 20G tall I’d been working on for several months. These enclosures have ranged in various parameters, from 50 to 73 degrees F; from 0.5” to 7” water depth; from cascade-style waterfalls and Whisper filters to bubble stones to still water; and from fully aquatic to lushly planted riparian with elaborate background. In all these tanks, my reds have been active with excellent appetites, and have shown no signs of illness. Here’s a rundown of the various tanks’ parameters, along with some miscellaneous facts like tankmates, diet, habits, etc.

1. 4G critter keeper (4 months)
a. Life history: one metamorph and one late larva (likely ~2-2.5 years), both ~2.75”-3” TL (larva transformed after about 3 months, at ~3” TL).
b. Tankmates: two springs, both late larva (likely ~2.5-3 years, ~3.25-3.5” TL).
c. Water: directly from rural well; temp from 50 to 70 F (basement, ice frequently floated for cooling); depth 1.5”-2”; pH ~7.5.
d. Filtration: bubble stone only.
e. Diet: ~50/50 store-bought blackworms and small nightcrawlers + pieces; occasional Gammarus scuds from local creek.
f. Tank layout: bottom small (0.25”-1”) river rocks and sand, with ~2”-5” river rocks for cover; small moss-covered driftwood piece extending ~2” above water level. No background.
g. Behavior notes: Generally stayed in water (metamorph would occasionally stay under moss above water for up to several days at a time). No adverse interactions with spring salamanders, besides occasional tug-of-wars over worms.​
2. 10G #1 (1 month)
a. Life history: both metamorphs-juveniles, ~3”-3.25” TL.
b. Tankmates: same as above, plus several medium to large two-lined (none eaten) and small fish (none eaten).
c. Water: directly from rural well; same temperature as previously; depth ~4”; pH ~7.5
d. Filtration: Whisper 10i filter running waterfall, set up in-tank.
e. Diet: small nightcrawlers + pieces; occasional woodlice from backyard.
f. Tank layout: bottom small river rocks with larger river rocks for cover; 3D background/land area/waterfall pink insulation foam covered with DryLok.
g. Behavior notes: Moved freely between land and water, often hiding under rocks or in tight crevices on land/waterfall area. Really liked dark area where the filter for the waterfall was hidden.
h. …This tank did not survive my move watertight, so it had to be ditched!​
3. 10G #2 (~8 months)
a. Life history: both juveniles; grew from ~3.25” TL to ~4” TL over 8 months.
b. Tankmates: same two spring sallies (both morphed at ~6-7 months & ~4.25” TL), plus several small fish. Initially the two-lines from the previous tank were in as well, but one of the reds soon consumed a mid-sized two-lined salamander with extreme prejudice, so the rest were removed.
c. Filtration/water flow: Whisper 10i set up in-tank.
d. Water: treated city water; temperature 65-73 F in late summer (with occasional spikes up to even 76, though no longer than ~10 hours; ice packs frequently floated for cooling) and 55-65 in winter and spring; depth ~7”; pH ~6.5.
e. Diet: small nightcrawlers + pieces; redworms (definitely preferred nightcrawlers, but never shunned redworms to the point of getting skinny).
f. Tank layout: Bottom pea gravel with 3”-6” river rocks for cover; small driftwood piece extending ~1” above water level. No background.
g. Behavior notes: Almost never interacted with fish in entire 8 months. Reds used wood piece occasionally, and so did springs (occasionally even before morphing), but both were primarily aquatic.
h. …Toward the end of this spring, it became clear that I would not be able to keep this tank <75 F (even at night), so the salamanders were moved to another 10G in my air-conditioned bedroom.​
4. 10G #3 (~5 months)
a. Life history: both juveniles to sub-adults; grew from ~4” to ~4.25” and became much stockier (especially the presumptive female).
b. Tankmates: same two springs (grew from ~4.5”-4.75” to ~5.5” in 5 months).
c. Filtration/water flow: none
d. Water: filtered & treated city water; temperature 60-65 at night and 65-75 during day (depending on whether AC ran). AC was run, at minimum, every night. Depth ~0.5”-0.75”; pH ~6-6.5. 20-30% water changes about every other week.
e. Diet: nearly entirely nightcrawlers
f. Tank layout: bare bottom with 8-10 large (4”-7”) river rocks and slate pieces, at least half of which jutted above the water level and were covered with long-fiber sphagnum, java moss, live land mosses, and ferns. Lots of java moss in the water, and moderate amounts of sphagnum and detritus.
g. Behavior notes: initially spent nearly all time underwater beneath rocks; eventually came to spend ~1/2 of time hiding beneath moss above water. Still no adverse interactions with spring salamanders. D E V O U R E D even large nightcrawler pieces, far more aggressively than the springs, which were now over 1” longer. Both reds and springs exclusively took food in the water, despite spending a decent amount of time on land.​
5. 20G tall (<1 week)
a. Life history: both sub-adults; ~4.25”
b. Tankmates: same two springs, sub-adults at ~5.5”
c. Filtration/water flow: 70 gph pump running waterfall + Penn Plax submersible 10G filter for filtration and water flow.
d. Water: filtered & treated city water; temperature 55-60 at night and 60-70 during day. Depth ~4”; pH ~6.5
e. Diet: Have not fed yet
f. Tank layout: bottom lined with slate pieces and medium-sized (~1”-2”) river rocks, with larger river rocks for cover. Several large river rocks breaking water with moss. Hard foam fake-rock piece from reptile store hides waterfall fixture and serves as cascade waterfall. 3D background made from pieces of slate and Great Stuff Pond & Foam, covered w/ 3M Doodlebug scrubber pads and a moss slurry. Various mosses, ferns and spikemosses planted throughout. (I’m hoping to get pictures of this up soon, especially since I promised and never delivered picture threads of the first abortive waterfall 10G and a 55G corner I had set up for A. maculatum.)
g. Behavior notes: Annoyingly, all salamanders except the presumptive male red immediately found a crevice I thought didn’t exist and have hidden there for the last several days. (Makes sense I guess, given how troglophilic both species can be.) Fortunately, I just had to scrape away a bit of the black paint to expose their little hiding spot; I’ll use a bit of black contact paper and tape to make it dark but accessible.
So yeah, there’s my account of life with P. ruber! Like several other people here, my experience has led me to believe that reds (and springs!) are far hardier w/r/t water temperature and movement than the traditional wisdom suggests. That said, both species *do* almost uniformly inhabit cold-to-cool, relatively uniform-temperature microhabitats in the wild, so keeping yours nice and cool is certainly the safest route.

Oh, and a final word: do *not* put any smaller salamanders in with your red unless you want them eaten in a hurry. That said, if you ever find yourself with excess axolotl larva and no buyers, your red will be very happy to solve that problem for you!
Wow! Thanks for all that feedback!

I was definitely aiming for a plaudarium type set up.
Also, I gotta say the thought of cohabitating different species is intriguing. Do you know anything about the toxins present in plethodontin salamanders? I was reading up on it, and apparently pseudotritontoxin is pretty comparable to toxins present in most other North American salamander species. I understand you say the reds and spring's have cohabitated well, but my concern would be wether or not the toxins of the two species might take a toll on each other over time.
 

PDONTnAMBY

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That's a good question; perhaps one of the other folks who have kept springs and reds together for longer than I have could give a fuller picture. Tristan Clark (herphunter1998 here) had/has several cohabiting for awhile I think. User taherman here might also be a good resource--he's cared for both reds and springs, along with a plethora of other species, at the Toledo zoo. (I have no idea if they were housed together, but he is probably pretty knowledgeable about the species' care and the potential effects of reds' toxicity.)

You might also try to get in touch with either Mark Schick or Eve Barrs at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium--they helped oversee the Amphibians special collection there, and the centerpiece of that collection was a large waterfall paludarium housing slimies, long-tails, caves, four-toeds, and a number of other species along with at least 7-8 large adult eastern newts. I unfortunately haven't been able to find contact info for either of them, but I think they could be of help to you.

Best of luck!
 

PDONTnAMBY

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Oh, and as a final note, most people here will strongly advise not mixing species in an enclosure; the reasoning and data on which they base that advice is solid. My anecdote of personal success with this shouldn't be construed as an umbrella endorsement, even for *this particular species pairing.*
 
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