Marbled Salamander

Ambystoma Opacum

Description

Ambystoma opacum is a medium-sized salamander reaching 10/11 cm. Like most ambystomae, these salamanders spend most of their time underground, in burrows, and are rarely seen outside of breeding seasons. The amount of time these salamanders spend underground, in their burrows (or those of other animals), has earned them the name "burrowing salamanders".

Natural range

Marbled salamanders are found in southern New England, western Texas, Illinois, Oklahoma, and north Florida. Marbled salamanders are found in moist sand / gravel areas and those bordering ponds and slow-moving streams.

Habitat

They are preferred in a cool place, so a room with controlled temperature. Salamanders should not be exposed to temperatures above 30 ° C for too long periods of time, otherwise death is assured. Temperatures between 18 ° C and 24 C are more suitable for them.

Adult Marbled Salamanders can be kept singly or in small groups. Some adult males can be "possessive" towards their female, and bite other males, this risk is markedly reduced or even eliminated if they have sufficient space to avoid each other. But there is a risk of stress, which can cause a lack of appetite, a risk of infections, and a lack of interest in reproduction (as for our friends the axolotls). Size should always be considered before placing salamanders together, as larger ones can devour smaller ones. For one or two marbled adult salamanders Easy to maintain, a beginner in urodeles can easily start with a terrarium or rather a "terrestrial aquarium" with 15 centimeters of substrate for a 60 x 30 x 30 cm tank, this substrate will be peat very humid, a temperature of 17 to 23 ° C is necessary, a higher temperature could lead to fungal infections and other diseases, lighting is not mandatory unless there are real plants.


If they are kept with soil or another substrate, marbled salamanders burrow into them, if the substrate is of sufficient depth of course. Several shelters tilted from rocks or bark will allow the salamanders to have shelter and to be sometimes visible. Water containers should be avoided, as they are bad swimmers.

Juvenile Marbled Salamander must be reared in aquatic conditions. The pH should not be less than 6.5, otherwise it will create inhibition of growth. Change the water every 3 days maximum.
Or small water changes each day can be made using an air hose (bubbler) for example, to remove any waste or uneaten food. Then add the same amount of standing water. Juveniles also do not support iodine like axolotls (in their aquatic form).
Marbled salamander larvae that are close to metamorphosis should be kept in a small aquarium. The terrarium should contain a gentle, sloping beach, dechlorinated water is added to create a shallow water bottom at one end. Some flat stones can be placed on this slope to allow traction for youngsters who wish to get out of the water. A few small stones or plants can be placed at the end of the tank to provide visual obstacles. The larvae of the Marbled Salamander, until near the age of metamorphosis, can be kept in a small aquarium with an enhancer also. The filter should be rinsed weekly. Marbled salamanders should not be kept under crowded conditions, otherwise permanent growth retardation may be observed, which will remain in the terrestrial state of the animal. Signs that metamorphosis is imminent are reduction and absorption of gills, thickening of the tail. Depending on the location of origin, sexual maturity can take from one to two years. Be careful to remove any container of water as soon as the metamorphosis is completed, otherwise it will drown.


Food

The adult marbled salamander can be fed crickets and waxworms. She accepts: crickets, cockroaches, earthworms / meal, beehive moths, morios. The amount and frequency of feeding Marbled Salamanders should match the temperatures. The higher the temperature, the less they eat. Wax worms are high in fat and should be used occasionally, or for skinny or stressed people. Waxworms (waxworms) also have the downside of having indigestible skin. If the skin is pitted or broken before feeding, the digestibility of waxworms can be improved. Due to their low metabolic requirements, the majority of adult Marbled Salamanders seen in captivity are prone to obesity. It is advisable to integrate a strain of soil worm and / or woodlouse in the substrate, so that they can find their food on their own, (this will reduce the risk of cannibalism, which is also frequent in young subjects).

Choosing the right foods for young people depends on their height. Newly hatched juveniles should be fed small food "products" such as nauplii, brine shrimp, chopped white grubs (Enchytraeus sp.), Tubifex, daphnia, cyclops. Newly transformed young salamanders can eat wingless fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila hydei Sturtevant), and pinhead at 10 days of age, as well as crickets (Acheta domestica) and must be fed daily. All food items for terrestrial salamanders can be sprinkled with an appropriate vitamin supplement. When Marbled Salamanders are about six months old, they can eat like adults.

Reproduction

In the wild, marbled salamanders breed mostly in the fall. They lay their eggs in temporarily flooded areas, ponds, swamps and slow-moving waterways that lack populations of predatory fish. Marbled salamanders practice courtship and egg-laying on land, unlike most other salamanders. In captivity this can cause the Coolidge effect: animals in captivity are used to living together, the female no longer lays her eggs, keeping her eggs in her. To stimulate reproduction, males and females should be kept separate until the time of breeding. At the time of breeding males also show white stripes along the back while females will have a dull or gray color. Only one male must be presented to the female (to avoid any fight).

Spermatophores are deposited on the ground. The spermatophore looks like a cone of clear jelly 4-4.5mm wide at the top 6mm wide at the base. An unrecovered spermatophore will have a small white cap attached to the top. Breeding and oviposition appear to be triggered primarily by humidity. Unlike most other ambystomid salamanders, ovopistion appears to be related to humidity in nature (after flooding or heavy periods of rain) so in captivity an increase in humidity can recreate an ideal climate. Females can lay up to 200 eggs.
The female puts them in the earth, then this mass of eggs must be immersed in a small aquarium just like for axolotls for example with still water, etc.