Salamanders are amazing creatures and I know from experience that seeing one is fantastic. But before you can see one, you have to know where you can find certain salamanders. Thus you have to know where salamanders live. With this in mind I did some research and here’s what I found.
Where do salamanders live? The native habitat of the Salamanders spans across a large portion of the Northern Hemisphere, with the greatest concentration being in North America. Additionally, many species can be found in Europe, Central America, Northern Asia and around the Mediterranean Basin, but very rarely south of it. A notable exception to the native habitat of the salamanders is the Amazon Basin, which happens to be their only natural habitat in the Southern Hemisphere. It is noted that all these areas have ecosystems that can be characterized by many bodies of water and generally areas with higher moisture levels which are an absolute need for their survival.
So if you want to know where 7 of the most popular salamanders live, then read this post because it has all the information you need to find them.
The following examples of salamanders are some of the most iconic examples that belong in this beautiful family of amphibians, being admired as examples of wildlife and pets as well.
The Natural Habitat Of The Tiger Salamander
One of the most common species of salamanders is the Tiger salamander
(Ambystoma tigrinum), with a native habitat that spans across most of the continental U.S., as well as parts of Southern Canada and the Mexican Plateau. Their appearance is very characteristic, as they usually have a black or very dark body with larger yellowish spots or stripes, hence their name. They are most usually found near seasonal bodies of freshwater, smaller running streams, and ponds, where they can lay their eggs since their larvae are exclusively aquatic. Spotting a specimen can be quite a challenge despite their size (reaching up to 14’’ of length) and their bright coloring, as they tend to spend most of their day in a wet underground burrow, being most active during the night. Your best bet if you want to spot one of these highly secretive creatures is searching for them during the rainy seasons, usually just after a rainfall, as they tend to become more active and venture away from the safety of their burrows.
Do Tiger Salamanders Make Good Pets?
Choosing the Tiger salamander as a pet is something fairly common, but it is a totally different scenario between larvae and adult animals, as they have different needs. The larvae demand an aquarium with clean water which ideally should be filtered, but with a filter that does not produce a strong flow, as it disrupts their natural inclination towards ponds that have still water. There should also be hiding spots within the vivarium for them, as they are quite secretive and want to be able to hide if they wish to.
Once their metamorphosis initiates, in some weeks or months, the owner should slowly provide a land area to them, as they will want to venture out of the water. Having only adult Tiger salamanders demands no constant water presence, but there should be constant moisture in the terrarium, as they thrive in damp and relatively cool (65 – 70 F) conditions. It is also very important to provide several inches deep of good quality and moist soil, as they love to burrow and spend much of their time underground as noted above.
Their diets as pets are simple and straightforward both in their larval and adult stages, consisting mainly of worms and insects, but it should be noted that they have a voracious appetite and they tend to gain weight easily, making it important to regulate their feeding.
Where Do Axolotls Live?
The Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), also known as the “Mexican walking fish”, is a unique and very interesting species of salamander, as they normally spend their entire life in an aquatic environment because they reach sexual maturity without any kind of metamorphosis! Despite having little resemblance and not becoming terrestrial as they mature, they are close relatives of the Tiger salamander.
They have a very limited natural habitat, once living in the lakes around Mexico City and currently found wild only within the canals of Xochimilco, the remnants of one of these lakes. Since their natural environment has been drained and polluted due to the constant expansion of Mexico City, the Axolotl is currently critically endangered, with only a very small population still alive in the wild.
This salamander species is widely known for its exceptionally refined regenerative process, which is more potent and faster compared to any other amphibian. Axolotls are able to regenerate not only limbs but also more vital parts of their body, including damaged internal organs and parts of their spine, as long as they survive the initial damage.
Do Axolotls Make Good Pets?
Due to their critically endangered status in the wild, it is virtually impossible to find them free, even if you travel to Mexico City and have a tour in the Xochimilco canals. Instead, they are fairly common as pets, especially compared to their rare and reclusive nature in the wild. Choosing an axolotl as a pet is a drastically different procedure compared to their aforementioned relatives, the Tiger Salamander, as they are strictly aquatic (except if you force-mature them, which can be very harmful and not advised).
They demand a large, at least 10+ gallon aquarium with sufficient vegetation and rocks that can act as natural hiding spots, as they want to hide if they feel stressed for any reason. What is most important is that you provide to them clean water, filtered by a mechanism that does not produce a strong flow.
It is also vital to keep their water relatively cool, as they prefer a temperature lower than 65 F and anything above can be dangerous for their health, while they are also very sensitive to light and prefer dimmer conditions, that enable them to hide easily if they wish to. Feeding them is quite straightforward, as worms and insects is an easy and excellent choice for their diet.
Habitat Of The Slimy Salamander
Contrary to the Axolotl, the Northern slimy salamander (Plethodon glutinosus) is a salamander which is completely terrestrial, not having an aquatic larval stage. They are very common in the Eastern and Central U.S., where they inhabit the woodlands and the ravines, always close to seasonal or constant bodies of water.
Their size is usually between 5 and 7 inches, being fairly large for an amphibian, but definitely not the largest of their family, while they have a characteristically slimy skin (hence their name). As it is typical of the Salamanders, they prefer moist soil and they usually hide during the day beneath logs, rocks or burrows, while they are most active during damper nights.
They are nocturnal predators, something that makes them fairly hard to spot, especially considering that they are usually black with very small white or yellowish dots on their body, being very hard to spot in low-light situations. If you wish to find one in their natural habitat, maybe the best idea is to search a woodland after heavy rainfall and try to gently search beneath the debris, where they might be hiding.
Do Slimy Salamanders Make Good Pets?
Slimy salamanders, despite not being as beautiful, large or sought-after pets as the Tiger Salamanders or Axolotls, can be a good choice as a pet, due to being comparatively easier to handle. Since they do not have an aquatic larval stage, the owner doesn’t need to create a more complex aquarium with water filters, etc. and a terrarium will suffice for their entire lifespan.
Similarly to other terrestrial Salamanders, they need a cool environment with elevated moisture and ample moist soil that they can use to dig a burrow. It is also a good idea to include stones, pieces of wood and some foliage that can act as hiding places, as they do like to regularly be out of sight.
Being primarily nocturnal animals, it is not a good idea to place them in a well-lit environment, as they will prefer to hide in such conditions and will generally be less active. Their diet is easy and diverse, just like it happens with most salamanders, including insects, ants, and worms. Due to their smaller size and lack of aquatic needs, they can be one of the best choices for a beginner in amphibian pets.
Where Do Fire Salamanders Live?
The Fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) is a species native mostly to Europe, with a wide habitat which includes most of the western, central and Balkan areas of the continent, living usually in the forests of these regions. They can seem similar to the Tiger Salamander, as they are also usually black with yellowish spots, but they can be distinguished by their generally brighter coloring, less bulky body and smaller overall size.
They usually hide beneath fallen tree trunks and leaves, trying to keep themselves moist and cool during the days, while during the evenings and nights they hunt for insects and other smaller animals. Just like most Salamanders, they tend to live near bodies of water when they can lay their eggs, as their larvae are aquatic until their maturity. If you know how to search for them, they can be a quite common sight in the European woodlands, especially after a rainfall that makes them more energetic.
Do Fire Salamanders Make Good Pets?
This species of salamander is one of the most commonly kept in captivity as pets, due to their relative availability, great looks, and ease of keeping healthy. The terrarium of a mature Fire salamander is relatively simpler compared to most others because they do not have the habit of burrowing like most others of their kind, thus demanding significantly lesser quantities of soil.
Just some rocks or pieces of wood can easily suffice for their hiding spot, making it a much easier terrarium to organize and much cheaper to maintain. Just like the rest, they are mostly nocturnal and they are comfortable at a cool temperature with high humidity which is vital for their health.
Another great attribute of this species is that they tend to become more familiar with their keepers and they can be taught how to eat their meals from a bowl, while many other salamanders need to be fed with forceps and might not eat food which is not moving.
The Natural Habitat Of a Spotted Salamander
A native of the Eastern U.S. and South-Eastern Canada, the Spotted salamander is quite common in the densely forested woodland of the Eastern Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. Spotted salamanders are usually smaller than the Tiger ones and despite the similar coloring, they can easily be distinguished because of their size difference, as well as by the comparatively smaller yellow spots.
They can be found near seasonal pools of water that have no fish since they cannot breed outside of these environments as fish are a great danger for their eggs and larvae. Just like all Salamanders, they need cool and damp environments, which leads to them spending most of their time underground and rarely venturing on the ground.
Their reclusive nature is what makes them a quite rare sight, despite their wide-spread presence across the North American ecosystem. If you wish to find one, your best bet is just after heavy rainfall, and preferably towards the evening that they tend to slowly become more active.
Are The Spotted Salamanders Good Pets?
Despite not being the most common species of Salamander, which is used as a pet, the spotted Salamanders are loved by many owners due to their beautiful looks and reclusive nature. They need a relatively thick layer of a substrate, as they are avid burrowers and it should always be kept moist, but not exceedingly wet at any time.
Following the usual lighting and temperature guidelines of the Salamanders is advised as well here, as they are also nocturnal and can’t tolerate heat for prolonged periods of time.
The Spotted Salamander is known for its great appetite and it can eat just about everything that it can overpower, including a smaller specimen of its kind, thus it is best to keep alone or within a terrarium with adults of similar size.
Where To Find The Japanese Fire-Bellied Newt
Newts are Salamanders that have one main difference compared to the usual ones: They tend to have a semi-aquatic lifestyle as adults, while salamanders are mostly terrestrial once they mature past their larval stage. Other than that, they are very similar in terms of habitat and behavior, living in the same moist environments that have little ponds and slow-moving bodies of water.
The Japanese Fire-Bellied Newt (Cynops pyrrhogaster) is native to the Japanese archipelago, in the dense forests that can be found there. They usually have a black or dark brown back, with a belly which has many bright reddish spots, a feature which makes them almost instantly recognizable. In terms of size, they can be up to 5.5 – 6’’ long, being rather medium-sized compared to most other salamanders of the list.
It has to be noted that this particular newt is very poisonous, especially when in the wild, as the skin has a very potent neurotoxin. If you spot one of them, be very careful if you wish to handle it and avoid any contact with your eyes or mouth.
Do you want to know more about which salamander is poisonous? I wrote a whole article about it and you can find it here.
Do Japanese Fire-Belly Newts Make Good Pets?
Due to their striking color pattern, the Japanese Fire-Bellied Newt is a very popular pet amongst those that choose to start a vivarium with amphibians. Their toxins might sound like a problem, but as long as you wash thoroughly your hands after you handle them, then there should be no problem having one.
It has to be noted though, that it is best to avoid leaving children unattended in a room that has a newt vivarium, as they might try to catch them, without realizing their poisonous nature. Their vivarium should have a mixed space which includes both a body of clean water and a land area with sufficient rocks and debris, as they tend to alternate within the day between the two environments.
Feeding them is an easy and straightforward process, just like with most other salamanders, while they also have the same temperature preferences and the characteristic tendency to prefer dimly lit environments.
Do Salamanders have teeth? Most salamanders have small teeth that are both in the upper as in the lower jaws. What you might not know is the fact that even salamander larvae have teeth
How long do salamanders live? One of the earlier mentioned salamanders (the spotted salamander) can live for about 20 years. But some have been recorded to live as long as 30 years!
Do salamanders need water? Yes, all salamanders need water. All species need to keep their skin moist and they also need to have offspring in the water. This is why a nearby water source is important.