Salamanders are a diverse group of amphibians with widely varying needs. Some species are terrestrial, others semi-aquatic, and others fully aquatic. In this article we’re going to show you the best salamander terrarium options for all 3 of these types of salamanders.
Terrestrial salamanders don’t need an area to swim in (and in fact they don’t want one). They do need high humidity levels, but they want dry solid ground all throughout the tank. Semi aquatic salamanders, though, do best when half the tank is given over to water and the other half is land. Fully aquatic salamanders, like axolotls, need to live in a true aquarium- no dry land, with filter pumps. They need a big aquarium, too. These salamanders require by far the biggest enclosures.
With all that said, let’s take a look some terrariums now!
Best terrariums for salamanders
Here are some of the best terrariums and enclosures for salamanders, both aquatic and terrestrial.
- Best semi-aquatic – Exo Terra 18x18x12
- Best aquatic – Tetra 55 gallon
- If you’re on a budget – ReptiZoo 10 gallon
Best semi-aquatic enclosure for salamanders
- Front window ventilation
- Raised bottom frame
- Waterproof bottom
- Cutouts/inlets for wires and tubing
This terrarium is spacious while still being compact. It should provide plenty of space for your salamander. The bottom is waterproof, which makes this terrarium a great choice for a semi-aquatic setup. You can dedicate half the tank floor to a pool for your salamander while creating a terrestrial habitat for them on the other half.
The front opening doors are a fantastic feature that allows for easy access during feeding and cleaning, and the inlets for wires and tubing are great for salamander habitat tanks since you’ll often need some additional equipment to ensure the humidity levels are correct.
Some common semi-aquatic salamanders that would thrive in this tank are slimy salamanders, fire salamanders, marbled salamanders, spotted salamanders, or tiger salamanders.
- Front window ventilation
- Limited edition hand-painted background
- Dual doors for easy access
- Designed by herpetologists
- Raised bottom plate allows for substrate heater
Essentially a larger version of the first tank on the list, this one might suit your needs if you’re keeping a larger species of salamander or just want to provide additional space. The waterproof bottom makes it easy to set up a great semi-aquatic environment for a salamander, with a spacious pool and lots of room on land, too.
As an added bonus you get a cool, hand painted background that will really set this terrarium apart from all the others. With this option you pretty much get everything in the previous one, but it’s a longer and overall larger enclosure.
- 360 degree view of interior
- Feeding hole built into top screen
- PVC tray for holding substrate or water
- Easy to clean
For terrestrial species, you can’t go wrong with this ten gallon tank from ReptiZoo. The feeding hole built into the top screen makes it incredibly easy to add live food to the tank for your salamander to hunt, and the PVC tray in the bottom ensures that the tank is easy to clean.
For a terrestrial tank you won’t be creating a pool but you’ll still need a lot of humidity. Glass tanks like this one are great for that because they’ll hold in the moisture but they’re also easy to clean and disinfect, so you can prevent mold from growing.
- Front window ventilation
- Raised bottom frame for substrate heater
- Waterproof bottom
- Closable inlets for wire and tubing
The smallest tank on the list, you can set this one up for either semi-aquatic or terrestrial species (which is actually true for the other tanks we’ve listed so far, we just think they’re each best suited for specific things). It’s small size means that’s really only suitable for the smallest species of salamander, though.
But if you’ve got small salamanders, this tank is a great choice. It’s got front opening doors for easy access, a waterproof bottom, and it’s well ventilated.
Best aquatic enclosure for salamanders
- Lots of space
- Kit includes lots of extras
- Ideal for aquatic salamanders
Fully aquatic salamanders need a true aquarium, just like fish. They need a big aquarium, too. They excrete a lot of ammonia; in the wild, this is immediately diluted and swept away by the current. In an aquarium, they’re trapped with it. Big aquariums provide the dilution necessary, and powered pumps help filter it out in between water changes.
This aquarium should provide plenty of space for your aquatic salamanders to live healthy, happy lives.
5 things to look for when buying a salamander enclosure
1. Enclosure size
Salamanders vary widely in size, and the size of the enclosure that the need will depend in the size of the salamander. A ten gallon tank is sufficient for most of them, though. It will give them plenty of room to swim (if they’re semi aquatic), hide, dig, and climb.
Aquatic salamanders need the biggest enclosures. Because of the ammonia they produce, they need an aquarium big enough to dilute the ammonia quickly. The bigger the better. For these salamanders, 10 gallons would likely be too small.
When considering a salamander terrarium setup, remember that there’s really no maximum size requirement- more space is always a good thing, so if you’re unsure of what size to buy, always err on the side of more space.
You’ll be feeding your salamander and cleaning the interior, which means you need to access it. You also need to keep the salamanders inside it. These amphibians are excellent climbers and can easily scale a smooth glass wall. Front opening doors make gaining access easier, and mesh screens are the top are always required.
The terrarium needs to be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Salamanders also require warmth and humidity, which is a perfect environment for mold. You’ll need to clean the terrarium regularly, but it helps to buy glass terrariums. These are easier to clean than plastic, and they also resist mold growth longer.
Since your salamander will spend it’s entire life in this enclosure, you want to be sure you’re giving it the best possible home. Plus, you probably want a terrarium that you can use for years to come, since they’re not exactly cheap.
Look for trusted manufacturers, and especially ones that consult herpetologists on the design. These will be the best terrariums to buy.
Good terrariums aren’t cheap. They’re made of glass, they’re heavy, and they have lots of interesting design features. They’re also built to last, which means the manufacturer has to make more money from each sale.
Of course, you have to be realistic with what you can afford. There are quality terrariums out there for less than $100, but you’ll likely be limited to smaller salamanders, and you won’t find a suitable aquarium for fully aquatic salamanders for that cheap.
Salamander supplies you’ll need for the enclosure
Here’s a quick list of the main items you’ll need to have for a proper salamander setup.
- Substrate – 3-4 inches of substrate they can use to bury themselves in. This coconut based substrate works well
- Substrate heater – The terrarium needs to be kept warm. A substrate heater is one of the best ways to do that.
- Moss- terrestrial salamanders don’t like to get in the water, but they do need humidity to keep their skin moist. Moss is the best tool for that. Soak it, and it will maintain humidity levels for a long time.
- Thermometer/humidity gauge – The only way to know if the climate inside the tank is right for your salamander is with a thermometer and a humidity gauge. Here’s a digital thermometer and humidity gauge that works great.
- Hide house – Everyone likes their privacy, even salamanders. Providing a hide house keeps your salamander happy and stress-free.
- Calcium supplement – It’s very unlikely that your salamander will get adequate calcium from it’s diet. Coat their food in this calcium supplement powder to ensure good health.
Salamanders are fascinating, unique pets. While they all have specific needs, caring for them isn’t too challenging, and can be very rewarding.
The Exo Terra Short All Glass Terrarium is the ideal enclosure for semi aquatic salamanders, and it’s sure to last a long time. For terrestrial species, get the 10 gallon REPTIZOO, and for a fully aquatic salamander you really want the Tetra.