Although they are common in the pet trade, these unique salamanders are rarely seen in the wild. They hide in burrows or damp leaf litter during the day to avoid dehydration and are active only at night. Salamanders resemble lizards, but as amphibians, they are dependent on water and need clear, clean rivers and ponds to mate and produce offspring.
In Mesoamerican legends, the salamander is a mythical creature born of fire. This may have been inspired by the salamanders’ behavior of hibernating under rotting logs so that when people added the wood to a a fire, the creatures seemed to appear from the flames.
Among these animals’ amazing adaptations is the ability to retain their larval gills into adulthood when necessary, allowing them to survive in the water if conditions on land become too harsh.
Tiger salamanders are found wherever soil is good for burrowing and there are pools of clean water or slow-moving streams, from southern Canada to eastern Mexico in North America.
These amphibians are carnivorous, consuming worms, insects, small frogs, and even other salamanders. As larvae, they eat small aquatic insects and crustaceans. Juveniles also eat larvae of other amphibians, frogs, and small fish.
Adult tiger salamanders measure between seven and 13 inches in length and can weigh two to six ounces. Their lifespan in the wild averages 12 to 15 years. In human care, their lifespan is about 25 years.