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Tylototriton shanjing

The Mandarin Salamander (Tylototriton shanjing)

The Mandarin Salamander FAQ (continued)

by Marc S Staniszewski


Up until recently most mandarin salamanders were imported to Europe and the US from wild caught specimens originating in Thailand. In 1992 alone nearly 10,000 were exported from this region and inevitably this lead to the probable extinction of Tylototriton from this country. Since then strict laws limiting the collection of this and other amphibians have come into force and therefore this wild-caught specimens are only likely to be available in small quantities. Unfortunately such specimens still tend to be poorly treated during capture and subsequent shipment resulting in some unpleasant ailments which can prove difficult to treat (see disease section).
Another better source is the increasingly successful efforts of breeders in Britain and Germany (for some reason this species is not as sought after in the US and therefore few people attempt to breed them). Occasionally juvenile and sub-adults are available in specialist herptile outlets which represent healthy individuals (if properly cared for by the dealer) which will settle down and make excellent captives.

Initial Care

From experience I have found that the first few weeks of new captive life of the mandarin salamanders, whether of wild-caught or captive bred origin (although especially the former), can determine how well it succeeds thereafter. Poor treatment often leads to a rapid decline in the salamanders health, particularly loss of appetite and malnutrition. Therefore it is important to provide at the very least comfortable surrounds and optimum temperatures, photoperiod. light intensity and diet. In addition I found they prefer to be kept isolated during such a period and this allows the hobbyist to determine the health of each specimen. Mandarin salamanders virtually always refuse food during their first few days in a new captive set-up but if given plenty of dark, cool and humid hiding places, a temperature in the 60 - 70F band, twelve hours of low light intensity (I have found the 7W night-light bulbs ideal) they soon come to terms with their new surrounds. The favourite food (and I have offered these salamanders many types) is most certainly waxworm or tebo's (for larger specimens). These can be dusted freely with multivitamin powder.

Subsequent Care

Once over the initial 'quarantine' period where specimens are frequently emerging from their hides during daylight and taking food regularly, mandarin salamanders can be introduced together into a suitable container. I have found that an all-glass aquarium is quite appropriate as this species does not especially object to the 'openness' of glass. A 36-inch aquarium will quite comfortably house up to four specimens with a 3:1 or 2:2 male to female ratio being preferred where breeding is to be attempted. This must have a secure lid as, like most caudates, mandarin salamanders can escape out of the smallest gaps. Adequate ventilation is also essential.
The aquarium must be scaped in the land:water fashion with water being in the form of a suitable bowl or other container or preferably a glass division (see diagram 1). The latter allows one of the small pumps that have recently come on to the market to be neatly located in a corner which aerates, agitates and cleans the water (if an undergravel filter is fitted) - essential where breeding is concerned. The depth should be no greater than 4 inches (10.16cm) at its deepest part, rising gradually out of the water by utilizing rocks and bogwood up to the glass division. The reason for this is that Mandarin salamanders are not particularly adept swimmers although they seem to enjoy bathing. In the main however, during the non-reproductive period they are largely terrestrial.
The land section should consist of lots of rocks and bogwood with plenty of hiding places and can be padded out with a moist moss (Java moss is probably the best type as is does not seem to deteriorate like ordinary sphagnum).

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All text and photo's - Copyright ©1996-2000 Marc Staniszewski - Most recent revision: 02/03/00 - Amphibian Information Centre

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