Are Salamanders Poisonous?

Reviewed By Tom •  Updated: 01/02/22 •  6 min read
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Are Salamanders Poisonous

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Are you thinking about getting a salamander as a pet? Are you worried because you’ve heard salamanders are poisonous? If so, then you’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we’ll take a look at whether or not salamanders are poisonous, along with other information you’ll need as a salamander pet parent. Let’s get started!

What are Salamanders?

Salamanders are amphibians, which puts them in the same family as newts, toads, and frogs. They may look like lizards, but these animals are not reptiles. They are completely different.

Salamanders have slender bodies, with four short legs and a tail. They tend to live in areas that are moist, though there are some that live in drier environments. Most salamander species are small; however, there are some that get grow up to 5 feet long.

Most salamanders need to live in an environment that is near water. Or they look for a place to live on moist ground. They’re usually found near creeks, ponds, and brooks. They also live under rocks and in other moist areas. Having said that, there are some species that live in the water all their lives, while others may live part-time in the water and part-time on land.

These amphibians tend to be nocturnal. And like frogs, they can breathe through their skin, gills, or lungs!

When it comes to reproduction, salamanders need to lay their eggs in places where they won’t dry out. Most salamanders lay their eggs in water; however, there are some species that lay their eggs under logs or leaves or even underground.

Salamanders & Regeneration

There’s another interesting fact about these amphibians. They’re able to regenerate lost limbs, tails, and toes. It may only take them a few weeks to regenerate these body parts! Having this ability makes it easier for them to get away from predators.

If the salamander is caught by a limb, and the limb is cut off, the salamander will just grow a new one! Isn’t that amazing?

Are Salamanders Poisonous?

The answer is yes; these critters are poisonous. However, they only secrete toxins through their skin when handled. They use this as a defensive mechanism in the wild. Unfortunately, pet salamanders are also poisonous and must be handled very carefully.

The level of toxins in salamanders is usually highest in the juveniles, which makes sense. They are inexperienced and may not be able to outrun a predator like an adult. However, the level of toxin will depend on the species, too. But in most cases, the young are more toxic than the adults.

You can easily become poisoned by a salamander just by handling it. You may handle it and then wipe your eyes or place your hands near your mouth. That’s all it takes to be poisoned. Salamander toxin can make you very sick or even cause death. For this reason, it’s always best to wear gloves when handling a salamander.

Where Does the Toxin in Salamanders Come From?

The poison in a salamander is produced in the granular and parotoid glands. The toxin is then released through the skin.

Venomous Salamanders

In the wild, there are also salamander species that are venomous. This means they can bite and inject the venom into you or another animal.

Then there’s a species of salamander called Pleurodeles. These salamanders have sharp ribs; if you touch them, these salamanders push their ribs out and sting you! Their toxins are then injected into you or the animal that caused the reaction.

Venomous salamanders are usually not kept as pets for this reason.

Other Things to Know About Salamanders

The most common salamanders kept as pets include:

These are usually raised in captivity and have are good-natured, for the most part. However, keep in mind that these or other salamander species are not interactive pets. They keep to themselves yet are fun to watch and take care of.

Salamanders love to climb, swim, hide, and more. So, your habitat will need to include these areas to keep your amphibian happy and healthy. Another important point is to make sure to feed the salamander a diet based on their needs.

These animals also require plenty of clean water—not only for drinking. Salamanders may sit in water at times, from which they can receive oxygen through their skin. So, if the water is dirty, it can have a drastic, bad effect on the salamander’s health.

What Type of Habitat Do Salamanders Need?

Salamanders will need a short terrarium or an aquarium fixed up as a terrarium. The habitat needs to be large enough to offer the critter places to do what he likes—swim, bask, hide, climb, etc. Depending on the size of your salamander, a terrarium that’s about 24” x 16” x 18” may be a good size for him.

In addition, you’ll also need a thermometer to monitor the temperature in the salamander’s habitat. And the salamander will do better with a substrate that stays moist but not wet. You may also need some decorative plants, water, and food bowls, as well as a hygrometer to measure the humidity in the habitat. The salamander may also need a UVB light and a heater to maintain the temperature between 65-70 F (depending on the species).

What Do Salamanders Eat?

In the wild, salamanders eat a wide variety of insects and arthropods (spiders, etc.). They also eat slugs, crickets, snails, and worms. They prefer live food, which you can buy at the pet shop.

Salamanders prefer to eat at night because they’re nocturnal like other amphibians. Salamanders usually eat every 1-3 days.

Some salamanders tend to eat a lot, which means you’ll have to clean out their habitat every day. This is because the poop could make the salamander sick. Think about living in your own poop, and you’ll get the idea!

Don’t Handle Salamanders Unnecessarily

We already explained why you shouldn’t handle salamanders with your bare hands. This is because salamanders are poisonous. However, there’s another reason. Salamanders have very thin, sensitive skin.

The oils and salt in your skin can damage the salamander’s sick. This could lead to open sores, infections, and more. So, it’s better to wear gloves or even use a fish net (made especially for aquariums) to move your salamander and protect his skin.

So, there you have it! While salamanders are poisonous, they still make good pets. Just be sure to wear gloves when handling them or use a fish net when it’s necessary to move them!

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Tom has always loved to write since he was little - he wanted to be either a writer or a veterinary doctor, but he ended up being a professional writer while most of his works are based on animals. He was born in San Francisco but later moved to Texas to continue his job as a writer. He graduated from the University of San Francisco where he studied biotechnology. He is happily married and a soon to be father!