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Ambystoma Maculatum

Spotted Salamander
Particularly shy burrowing salamander. The animal is nocturnal and difficult to observe even in a terrarium because it only comes out around 2 - 3 am to feed. In winter, they are kept in a relatively dark place at temperatures of 5 - 7 ° C. These then become very active throughout the day.


This easy to recognize salamander is dark gray to black above with a row of bright yellow spots from mouth to tail. It is bluish gray on the stomach. Her skin is smooth, moist and unprotected. The tail is long and thick.

Maculatum resembles salamandra salamandra, except this salamander is less massive and does not have parotoid glands.


It is a salamander whose size varies between 10 and 25 cm in its country of origin (North America and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island).

It is mostly found in deciduous forests with a thick layer of organic matter. This species is distributed throughout eastern North America. This salamander cannot stand heat, and in its country of origin is already active between the patches of snow at temperatures of the order of 2-3 ° C.


During the day, it stays in the damp darkness of the forest, hidden under a log or a stone and sometimes in the burrow of another animal. At night, she goes out to look for her food on the forest floor.

This is made up of larvae, worms, slugs, spiders, centipedes and other small insects. It locates its prey thanks to its sense of smell and sight. It also adopts this behavior in a terrarium where it spends most of its time buried under leaves or soil and only eats live prey that it catches at night or in dark weather. This salamander hibernates during the winter months if the temperature drops below 5 ° C. In captivity, hibernation is not mandatory if reproduction is not desired.


She reaches sexual maturity from the age of two. It reproduces very early in the spring in water where it deposits clusters of eggs which will become larvae. It changes habitat depending on the time of year; in spring it mates in temporary or permanent ponds and in summer it migrates to mixed and deciduous forests. To go from breeding ponds to forests, it passes through migration corridors with still water and wet soils.

In his country, it is during the nights of April and May after the snowmelt that we can observe it in ponds, in the middle of the mating season. The male performs a complex ritual to seduce the female. The female is courted by several males. Courtship appears to be triggered by spring rains or their alternation with drier periods. Some sources indicate that this salamander is fertilized in the fall and comes to lay eggs in the spring in temporary or permanent ponds. But then why are there courtship displays on the part of the males in the spring on the water points and deposit of spermatophores?

(photo to integrate)

During the courtship display, the male guides the female with small nods towards the spermatophore which he has deposited on the bottom of the pond.

She lays her eggs in the form of gelatinous packets the size of a fist and attaches them to aquatic plants (this looks very much like the eggs of common frogs). The female is able to lay several hundred eggs in packages of 1 to 250 eggs.

Some larvae develop into adults at the end of summer while others overwinter buried in mud at the bottom of the water and transform at the end of the second summer.


Like the tiger salamander, the spotted salamander keeps very well in captivity at room temperature or cool. It is particularly afraid of heat, so above all no heating of the terrarium. In addition, since the animal is nocturnal and shy, it is not necessary to light. If lighting is installed for the plants, it is imperative to set up hiding places and check that it does not heat the space. Reminder: these animals observe each other, but do not manipulate each other.

The terrarium does not have to be huge. A floor dimension of 60 cm by 40 cm is acceptable for two salamanders. The live food offered must be adapted to the size of the animal and not have a too thick shell (it is therefore necessary to avoid poorly nutritious mealworms and certain beetles). Also beware of some very poisonous spiders and other myriapods which can be dangerous. This salamander is able to fast for several weeks in very cool periods.

As a substrate, a thick layer of heather earth (its natural acidity prevents mold from growing) mixed with a little forest soil. This should be kept moist by spraying and not soggy. Finally, a layer of dead leaves, patches of forest moss and some bark are welcome.

This salamander does not climb the windows, but a mesh cover on the terrarium is necessary for the good ventilation of the whole and the maintenance of the insects which will always try to escape.

For reproduction, it is necessary to install a water point of a large size. It should not be deep, but it should have fine branches to prevent drowning and have anchor points for the packages of eggs.


It can be difficult because it is really necessary to reproduce the natural conditions of their wild environment of life with marked cycles of cold, rainy periods ... For this, the best is to install an outdoor pool with an enclosure capable of preventing any escape and let nature and the seasons take its course. This experience should be avoided in a hot Mediterranean climate and should be done in the shade with a relatively large number of individuals of both sexes over two years of age. The sexing of individuals is a little more difficult to do than in ambystoma mavortium or tigrinum.
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