I’ll be the first to admit this post is long overdue. Around Spring break, I figured Milo would complete his change within the week, but I was surprised to watch it undergo another month. That being said, he is now a happy seven-inch salamander!
Be sure to have completely moist, clean hands, as lacking to do so can present harmful salts and oils to the salamander; Limit handling to short intervals.
The first noticeable sign of his change was the regression of his gills. Eventually, he began to loom around the surface of the water, so I moved him to a shallower enclosure with a hideout to crawl out on. I will say this was the more tedious part of the transition–not so much the change of environment but waiting for him to fully make the leap from aquatic to terrestrial.
Beginning of Gill Regression
Once they do make the switch, it’s best to allow them an enclosure of moist, loose dirt (NO fertilizer) with plants and shaded areas to hide under. As for diet, crickets, mealworms, and earthworms can be let loose in the enclosure for the salamander to feed on as it pleases. The benefit of having mealworms over crickets appears to be centered around Milo residing most of his time underground. This way he is not forced to come up for food and is able to remain under the dirt where he is currently the most comfortable.
He is definitely camera shy in his terrestrial form, but I do hope to have more pictures of his transformation in the weeks to come.
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.
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.
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!