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Water Dog/Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum)
Water Dogs are the larval form of Tiger Salamanders. As Water Dogs, they are white-to-grey with a prehistoric look and external gills. When grown, they are olive-to-black in color with yellow-to-brown stripes and spots, giving them a tiger-like appearance. They typically grow between 8-10 inches long, but can grow up to 13 inches. They can live over 15 years if properly cared for.
Habitat and Tank Requirements:
This species is native to the North and Central America.
Water Dogs are totally aquatic and should be kept in a tank of water with a gravel substrate. When choosing a filter for your tank, use common sense: a pump that is too small will leave the water dirty, while a too-powerful pump with filter out the microorganisms needed to maintain a healthy pH.
As adults, Tiger Salamanders are mostly terrestrial and can live in a land-based aquarium set up so long as they have a shallow water bowl large enough for them to soak in. This water should be changed at least once every other day. Misting the tank with water every day or two is also recommended.
Use mulch or moss as a substrate to retain moisture and deep enough that your salamander can burrow in it. Add plants, woods, or rocks for them to hide in. A 15-20 gallon tank can house 1 or 2 adults.
These animals are comfortable in temperatures ranging from 66-74° F. They do not need special lighting.
Be sure there are no openings through which your salamander can escape. A hole large enough for it to stick its head through is big enough for it to escape.
Water Dogs love to eat worms, including earthworms, blood worms, and even freeze-dried worms. Tiger Salamanders are mainly insectivorous and will feed on small crickets, mealworms, wax worms, earthworms, and any other insects small enough for them to ingest. It is recommended that food be dusted with calcium to prevent bone softening.
Allow your salamander time to become accustomed to its new home before handling them extensively. Handling them little by little over a period of time lets the animal get used to you and reduces stress.