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Tylototriton shanjing

The Mandarin Salamander (Tylototriton shanjing)

The Mandarin Salamander FAQ (continued)

by Marc S Staniszewski

Heating & Lighting

The aquarium should never be located in a room that catches a lot of sun, especially in summer. Lighting should be quite subdued as mentioned earlier as this encourages specimens to leave their nighttime hiding places in search of food - a habit that is very unusual in caudate amphibia. In normal room temperatures of 68F., a night-light will not give out much heat. The actual temperature range at which these salamanders are active depends on their region of origin. For instance those hailing from Thailand can tolerate higher temperatures than types from China and Nepal, but are less able to tolerate cold conditions. As most individuals directly or indirectly originate from Thailand it can be assumed that the temperature should be in the 55 - 75F. range although as low as 40F. and as high as 85F. will be tolerated for short periods. Below 50F. and these salamanders enter a period of dormancy (which proves integral where breeding is to be attempted).


Once settled down in captivity, these salamanders are voracious, even greedy eaters. Most foods that smell acceptable are taken but after studying this species for fifteen years I have found that the following list represents the ten most relished foods in order;

1)   Waxworm
2)   Tebo
3)   Earthworm (not those from compost heaps)
4)   White Slugs
5)   Cabbage-white caterpillars
6)   Strips of lean beef
7)   Crane-fly larvae
8)   Chopped pinkie mice
9)   Crickets (cooled down in fridge)
10)  Brown Slugs

Of course it is essential that any invertebrates that have been collected from the garden should be free of pesticide and in the case of earthworms, thoroughly swilled in fresh water. All food can be liberally dusted in multivitamin powder although if the food is varied enough, this need only be at every third or fourth feed.



Sexing these salamanders is extremely easy with males possessing a much more swollen cloaca, tending to be rather smaller and more streamlined. They also have somewhat thicker forearms.


The reproductive behaviour of Tylototriton shows remarkable similarities to the western European/North African ribbed newt Pleurodeles waltl. Usually mating takes place in water. A few weeks after a dormancy period from December to March where the temperature should not rise above 55F., the male attempts to wrestle a female into the water using his snout and hooked forearms (which he interlocks with the females forearms and drags her along). This may take hours or days depending on the female receptiveness but eventually a successful mating will occur. Fertilization is external, the male dropping up to three small cone-shaped spermatophores which he then nudges or drags the females cloaca across. However I have also observed this behaviour on land and sometimes fertilization may occur without there being any contact whatsoever between the two sexes.

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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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