NANFA--Off Topic: Ambystoma tigrinum

Hoover, Jan J ERDC-EL-MS (
Tue, 3 Jul 2001 15:04:07 -0500

This post does not address Native Fishes.

There is some interest among amphibian conservationists in the recent
commercial exploitation of larval tiger salamanders (Ambystoma tigrinum).
Apparently data are limited on how many of these animals are harvested or
bred for use as bait and, more recently, as pets. I am curious whether any
NANFA members have any first-hand knowledge of commercial tiger salamander
collection, production, or marketing. My interest is partly professional
(our group is studying vertebrates in small floodplain pools) and partly
personal (my wife and I were escorted by a mall security guard away from a
salamander dealer; she is a herpetologist and was asking him some questions
about Ambystoma care to which he took offense). Here is her post to a herp

"At our largest shopping mall in Jackson, MS, we recently had a person set
up a kiosk selling A. tigrinum larvae. He is calling them living dinosaurs
and selling them as reptiles. He sells them in those small plastic critter
boxes which are about the size of the animal. He gives the buyer a very
small ziplock bag of goldfish flakes and tells them only to feed them about
once a month. He also says that they will live up to 25 years in this
container with little maintenance. He tells his customers that he is
breeding them in his "lab" but will not say how. I witnessed at least 4
sales in about 30 minutes. He sells them for around $16-25 each.
Apparently, similar kiosks are popping up at other malls in our area and are
trying to replace the betta fish craze."

Members can e-mail me privately and I will share your experiences with her.

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