Friday, July 16, 2010

Anderson's Salamanders

The Anderson's Salamanders I received a few days ago are doing fine.. For now they are in a 6 gallon tank but they eventually will be moved to one a bit bigger, probably a 20 gallon or maybe a 30 gallon long. Despite the very warm weather, even the temps in my basement have gotten into the high 70s and maybe even 80, they are doing well and do not seem stressed. I was told they require lower temps in about the high 60s to very low 70s at the most but they are doing fine with water temps that have hit as high as 76 so far. I have kept the water well circulated and am sure that helps and once or twice a day I throw a couple of ice cubes into the tank and sometimes have the A/C on as well. Still though, the water temp has not gone lower than 70, and has mostly been in the low to mid 70s, as far as I know and they seemingly are not stressed at all. My guess is, that while it is fairly cool because of high elevations where they are found way, they are probably also routinely subjected to higher temperatures as there natural range is within the tropics. By the way, their natural range is quite limited. That would be a single lake called Laguna de Zacapu. It is in north-central Michoacan, Mexico. It is the only place in the world where they are found to naturally occur.

Sorry the video is not the best but I certainly am not the best videographer nor do i have the best equipment. Regardless, you can get a fair idea of what they look like. They look pretty much like this throughout their normal lifetimes as they are neotenic or in other words retain the larval (gilled) stage of their development throughout their lifetimes. For most salamanders, a typical life cycle would be egg, hatching out as larval gilled stage, transforming into a gilless adult. These guys retain their gills and become fully functional adults, able to breed, in that condition. This could be due to the altitude at which they are found, or due to the fact that they evolved this way because their natural habitat, Lake Zacapu, lacked indigenous fish fish predators and therefore it may have been to their advantage to remain a fully aquatic species in order to survive. Today, fish are in the lake, having been introduced in the past and the fish have lowered the population of these interesting salamanders. In addition, pollution has also brought a marked decline to their numbers. Pollution is not the only way that people effect their numbers as they are eagerly sought as food items by the local people. It has been reported that hundreds of them per day are removed from the lake. They are currently not on any CITES list but have been labelled as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. (I have never heard of this organization before so do not know if this ranking as critically endangered is credible, especially since the species does not appear in CITES at all.) Regardless, these were captive bred here in the USA, as I understand. I intend to breed mine should I be lucky enough to have both sexes. If not then I will try to acquire some of the gender I do not have. Time will tell, these are still too young to determine their sex. If I am lucky enough to have both male and female salamanders then I hope to be breeding them by next spring at the latest.

All the best,
Glenn B