Mole salamanders are intriguing little amphibians that have been around for ages. But what really are mole salamanders and do mole salamanders make good pets? Dr. Jess explains it all below:
What is a Salamander?
Salamanders are amphibians that look like a combination of a frog and a lizard.
There are hundreds of different types of salamanders on the planet, with the same number of different colors, sizes, and shapes. Most adult salamanders are about 6 inches long
A salamander’s skin is moist and looks shiny or slippery.
Their bodies are long and slender like a lizard.
Some salamanders have four legs and others have only two.
Some salamanders have lungs, some salamanders have gills, and some salamanders breathe through their skin and do not have lungs or gills!
Like other amphibians, salamanders absorb water through their skin and they must a moist habitat in order to do so.
All salamander species need a water source nearby as they all need to keep their skin moist and need water to have viable offspring.
Most salamander species live in humid forests. But in regions where they live where the temperature drops below freezing, they often will be seen hibernating.
Salamanders are nocturnal animals and usually are more active during cool times of the day because of how their bodies are set to function.
During the day they hide under rocks or in trees to stay cool and then at night they come out to do their daily activities.
Many salamanders have skin patterns that help them stay camouflaged, while other salamanders have bright, colorful skin that is used to warn predators to stay away from them.
Many salamanders also have parotid glands around their necks or tails that secrete a bad-tasting or poisonous fluid to help protect them.
Some salamander species can even shed their tails during an attack and grow a new one. This feature can help a salamander escape a predator, and therefore death.
Salamanders are carnivorous, which means they eat meat instead of plants, so they consume foods such as worms, snails and slugs. Some larger salamanders can eat fish, insects, frogs, mice, etc.
What is a Mole Salamander?
Mole salamanders, Ambystoma talpoideum, are mid-sized salamanders, approximately 3-5 inches in length and can live to over 9 years of age (Gibbons and Semlitsch, 1991).
They have stout and sturdy bodies with large, flat heads for their size.
Mole salamanders have wide, protruding eyes, prominent costal grooves (the vertical grooves on their sides), and sturdy arms.
Mole salamanders can be black, brown, or grey in color with pale blue, yellow, or silver speckles.
Larvae and paedomorphic adults (adult salamanders that retain their juvenile-like physical characteristics) are water-dwellers, found in fish-less waters, and have large gills for efficiency.
Adult mole salamanders live alone, and are found in forested habitats and can be seen at times under logs or in wet leaf piles. (Anderson and Williamson, 1974)
Adult Mole Salamanders are nocturnal and burrow during the day. They are rarely observed in the wild because they seldomly venture above ground, except during breeding season.
During certain times of the year, male and female mole salamanders will migrate to breeding pools, fishless bodies of water, to mate.
Female mole salamanders will lay anywhere from approximately 200 to 700 eggs and attach them to aquatic vegetation by the breeding pools.
What Makes For a Good Pet?
These are the most common factors that my clients have when choosing a pet:
Ease of Care:
How easy it is to care for this pet?
Do they need a lot of attention?
Do they need a lot of equipment or occupy a lot of space?
Maybe they need a lot of training?
All of these questions will add up to help you determine how easy this potential new pet may be you, your schedule, and your family.
Cost of Care:
Not only do most pets have the initial cost of purchasing the pet, but then there is the cost of upkeep, and the cost of the unexpected – usually in the form of emergency veterinary bills.
Many of my clients say that this is a huge factor when deciding on a pet.
How long will a typical, healthy pet survive if given the proper and suitable home and care?
What happens if your pet is diagnosed with an illness or disease?
Does it change their life expectancy drastically?
Are Mole Salamanders Good Pets?
As discussed above, mole salamanders are rarely seen in the wild because of their nocturnal nature and their burrowing cabilites.
Because of their natural tendencies, mole salamanders would not be the most exciting or easy pet to have or keep care of.
There are many other types of salamanders that are more common as pets, some sold in pet stores at very affordable prices, to choose from.
If you are collecting a wild mole salamander for captive care, please be aware of your local laws regarding their possession and respect their presence in their natural enivironment.
Mole salamanders are not the best pet to choose from.
There are other types of salamanders easily available for families to choose from when deciding on a pet for their family.
If you do see a mole salamander out in the wild, count yourself lucky, as they are rarely seen by humans during the day.
And remember – if you see one of these salamanders out in their natural habitat – keep it that way and admire from afar!
References made in this article:
- Gibbons and Semlitsch, 1991
- Anderson and Williamson, 1974