Tiger Salamander

Tiger Salamander
Scientific NameAmbystoma tigrinum
Common NameTiger Salamander
Care LevelIntermediate
Lifespan12-15 years in captivity
Adult Size6-13 inches
OriginNorth America
Color VariationsYellow or gold stripes, spots, or blotches on a black base

About the Tiger Salamander

Widely distributed across North America, the Tiger Salamander is one of the continent’s most iconic and largest terrestrial salamanders. Their striking appearance and endearing behaviors have made them popular in both academic circles and among hobbyists. Though they are ground-dwellers, these creatures are associated with moist habitats and often found near ponds or slow-moving streams.


The Tiger Salamander boasts a significant size, typically ranging between 6 to 13 inches when fully grown. Their size, combined with their distinctive markings, makes them a captivating presence, whether observed in the wild or a controlled environment.

Unique Features

The Tiger Salamander’s unique markings are its most distinguishing feature, earning it its feline name. Depending on the specific subspecies and individual variation, these markings can manifest as stripes, spots, or blotches. Another fascinating feature is their ability to regenerate lost limbs, making them a point of interest in scientific studies about regenerative medicine.

Behavior and Temperament

Solitary by nature, Tiger Salamanders prefer the life of a recluse, burrowing into the ground or seeking refuge under rocks and logs. They emerge primarily at night or after rains when they hunt for food. Their elusive nature means they might not always be visible in a captive setting, often burrowing or hiding during the day.


While robust and hardy, the Tiger Salamander’s skin remains permeable, making them susceptible to toxins and chemicals that might be present on human skin. Therefore, it’s best to handle them sparingly, ensuring hands are rinsed and free from soaps or lotions. When handling is necessary, be gentle and brief to minimize stress.

Diet & Nutrition

In the wild, Tiger Salamanders are opportunistic hunters, preying on anything they can overpower. Their diet primarily comprises insects, worms, and even small vertebrates. In captivity, a varied diet of crickets, earthworms, and mealworms is ideal. Calcium and vitamin supplements should occasionally be incorporated to ensure their dietary needs are met.


Preferring cooler temperatures, Tiger Salamanders thrive in a range of 65°F to 70°F. If housed in a terrarium, providing a gradient temperature allows them to choose their preferred spot. Care should be taken to ensure the environment doesn’t become excessively hot, as this can be detrimental to their health.


Humidity is vital for the Tiger Salamander. They prefer a moist environment, which can be maintained by regular misting and using moisture-retentive substrates. A humidity level of around 60-70% is ideal, but it’s essential to avoid stagnant, overly wet conditions.


While they don’t have specific UVB requirements, a consistent day-night cycle is beneficial for Tiger Salamanders. Using standard terrarium lighting can mimic their natural environment. However, as they are nocturnal, they do not require prolonged exposure to bright lights.

Common Health Issues

Tiger Salamanders, if not cared for appropriately, can succumb to various health issues. Overly wet conditions can lead to fungal and bacterial infections. On the dietary front, an imbalance can result in metabolic bone disease. Proper hygiene, regular habitat cleaning, and a balanced diet are crucial preventive measures.


Breeding Tiger Salamanders in captivity can be challenging and requires simulating seasonal changes to induce breeding behaviors. After a period of cooling to mimic winter, introducing a rain chamber or wetter conditions can trigger breeding readiness.

Mating Habits

When ready to mate, male Tiger Salamanders engage in a ritual, guiding the female to a spermatophore he has deposited on the ground. The female picks this up, leading to fertilization. Females lay eggs in water, attaching them to submerged structures. These eggs hatch into aquatic larvae, undergoing metamorphosis before transitioning to their terrestrial adult form.

Tiger Salamander FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)