Eye of the Tiger: Caring for My Eastern Tiger Salamander Larva

Earlier in the semester, I stumbled across an Eastern tiger salamander at Petco, still in his waterdog form. This type of salamander is known for its hardiness compared to other salamander breeds.

My little guy’s name is Milo, though he hasn’t stayed little for long.  Spanning a length of 140 mm, he is an ideal size for metamorphosis. While docile to humans, I would hate to be an insect crossing his path.

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No one is certain what causes these water dogs to initiate their change. Speculations range from their fear of a shifting external environment to simply random initiation. I have seen owners induce the transformation in the past by removing a filter and gradually lowering water levels; coupled with increased time between feedings, this can cause the water dogs to morph into their terrestrial form.

Diet for these animals consists of insects, freeze dried krill, as well as pinky mice. The latter, as well as some variations of insects, must be given in moderation due to the tiger salamander’s increased risk for obesity. Milo’s diet currently consists of 4 freeze-dried krill a day, with a mealworm every other day.

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I choose to feed him with feeder tongs, just to ensure his quantities remain consistent. Dropping food in by hand or dangling is perfectly suitable, though sometimes they will mistake your finger for a nibble. That being said, because they lack teeth it will just feel like a rubber ball bouncing off your fingertip.

I have my water dog housed in a three-gallon aquarium right now and am hoping to move him to a new ten-gallon tank in the upcoming week.

Look out for an update post featuring Milo’s new enclosure as well as any growth progress made!

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