8 Salamander Species That Make Great Pets

Some salamander species can make great pets, as long as you’re okay with admiring them instead of handling them.

Apr 29, 2024By Molly Weinfurter
salamander species that make great pets

Salamanders have sensitive skin, so they’re not animals you can pet and hold. They also require specialized care to live healthy lives.

However, they’re great pets if you want a unique animal you can admire. There are hundreds of salamander species, but only some can be kept as pets. Of the ones that can be pets, only certain ones are easy to find and care for. If you’re interested in a pet salamander, consider one of the following species.

8. Axolotl

axolotl in aquarium
Image credit: Pixabay

Axolotls are becoming increasingly popular as pets, thanks to their adorable faces and frilly gills. They’re a species of aquatic salamander, meaning they live underwater their whole lives instead of losing their gills and becoming terrestrial. Most young salamanders (such as tiger salamanders) look like axolotls. However, they eventually lose their gills and develop lungs so they can live on land.

Axolotls are easy pets, as long as you have time and space to prepare a large aquarium. Twenty gallons is the minimum tank size, and it should be long instead of tall. Since axolotls are fully aquatic, their setup doesn’t need any land like most salamander enclosures would.

If you want an axolotl, you must feed them earthworms. In some cases, you may even need to chop up the worms if they’re too big. Also, axolotls do best as the only animal in the tank. As adults, they can live with another axolotl, but as juveniles, they could nip each other’s feet and gills. Thus, they’re best living solo.

Axolotls are critically endangered in the wild. There are less than 1,000 in the wild—but millions in captivity.

7. Slimy Salamander

slimy salamander on log
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Even though all salamanders feel slimy, this species takes it to another level. These creatures can emit a glue-like substance from their skin glands. The sticky secretion is used as protection from predators. They’re not dangerous to humans, but their slime can be hard to get out of clothes. So, it’s best to avoid touching them as much as possible.

Slimy salamanders are very low maintenance. They spend most of their time hiding. All you need to do is make sure they always have access to crickets and a water dish. Since their skin is dark with a few light speckles, they easily blend into their surroundings. They’re fascinating creatures, but you might not see them all the time as pets. They love burrowing and hiding!

6. Spotted Salamander

spotted salamander on moss
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Spotted salamanders have dark skin like slimy salamanders, but they have bright yellow spots. They’re common throughout the United States and Canada, but you should never take them out of the wild. If you want one as a pet, find a reputable breeder.

These salamanders behave similarly to slimy salamanders because they spend a lot of time hiding. They need a moist habitat and access to crickets. Worms, especially waxworms and mealworms, can make great snacks for them.

Like other salamander species, these salamanders can regenerate body parts if they get hurt. They can grow back limbs, tissues, and even organs.

5. Eastern Newt

juvenile eastern newt
Image credit: Unsplash

All newts are salamanders but not all salamanders are newts, similar to how tortoises are a type of turtle, but not all turtles are tortoises.

The eastern newt is a unique newt species because it goes through several significant life stages. They start with aquatic larvae, but then, juveniles are bright red and land-dwelling. Once they fully mature, they become mostly aquatic again and have dark coloring.

To accommodate the unique lifestyle of this species, you’ll need to provide both land and water in your newt’s enclosure. They’re fascinating to look at, but they aren’t safe to touch. If threatened, they can secrete toxins that can irritate your skin, eyes, and nose.

4. Fire Belly Newt

fire belly newt swimming
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Fire belly newts are another popular newt species because of their unique coloring. They have dark skin with a bold red-orange belly. They’re mostly aquatic, but they don’t have frilly gills like axolotls or aquatic salamander larvae. Even though they spend most of their time in water, their enclosure should have some land for them to climb on.

These amphibians are tiny, only growing two to four inches long. They’re typically more active when kept in pairs or small groups, making them one of the most fascinating salamanders to observe. Like eastern newts, they can secrete irritating toxins, so avoid handling them.

3. Fire Salamander

fire salamander on leaves
Image credit: Pixabay

Fire salamanders are the species that most people picture when they think of salamanders. They’re also one of the best salamanders to keep as a pet. They got their name because fire salamanders were believed to live in fire. It’s likely because they would hide in logs and come running out when people threw the logs on the fire.

Like many vibrant amphibians, fire salamanders can release a toxin to harm predators. Luckily, that substance isn’t harmful to humans unless ingested. However, it can still cause some skin irritation. They love a mostly terrestrial home that has a mossy substrate.

2. Marbled Salamander

marbled salamander on leaves
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Marbled salamanders are a species of mole salamander. Mole salamanders love to burrow, and they’re typically chunkier than other salamanders. They’ll spend most of their time hiding, only peeking out to snatch live insects.

Since marbled salamanders keep to themselves, they’re an easy pet. Salamanders are usually nocturnal, and this species is no exception. So, while you won’t see them much during the day, they’re a low attention-needing pet that you can occasionally admire.

1. Tiger Salamander

dirty tiger salamander
Image credit: Unsplash

Tiger salamanders are a stocky mole salamander species like marbled salamanders. They’re one of the easiest salamanders to get as pets and they’re low maintenance. So, they’re a great salamander for beginners.

These salamanders can thrive as long as they have lots of places to burrow and access to live food like worms and crickets. They’re larger than the average salamander with some individuals reaching 14 inches long.

Salamanders are unique critters that people often overlook as pets. However, they don’t need much attention, making them great for beginners, as long as they have a proper setup. Also, they’re fascinating creatures because amphibians have unique adaptations and behaviors.

Molly Weinfurter
By Molly Weinfurter

Molly has over 5 years of experience writing about animals for various websites. She has two pets of her own: a small dog (Mabel) and an axolotl (Wooper). She’s extremely passionate about helping animals in need, so she regularly volunteers with animal organizations by fostering pets, helping at adoption events, and educating about puppy mills.