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Salamander Lifespan: How Long Do They Live?

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key point:

  • If cared for properly in captivity, salamanders can live for up to 20 years.
  • Salamanders typically live 5-10 years in the wild.
  • Part of the reason for their longevity is their ability to regenerate damaged limbs.

Salamanders are salamanders that spend their entire lives underwater. These beautiful creatures start their lives as eggs and mature at about a year old. They are nearly extinct in their native habitat near Mexico City, and their numbers are still declining. However, they are more popular than ever as exotic pets, with more numbers in captivity than in the wild. In this article, we discuss salamander lifespan, stages, and how they compare to other salamanders!

How long do salamanders live?

Albino salamander among rocks underwater
half year old albino salamander

© Orizatriz / Creative Commons

Salamanders typically live 10 to 15 years in captivity, but with proper care they can live for over 20 years. The oldest salamanders are unknown, but as they become more common pets, their age may be surprising, as some salamander species are extremely long-lived ( more on that below! )

Although salamanders are small and a relatively short-lived species of salamander, they do live longer than many people realize when they adopt them! Part of their resilience comes from their ability to regrow body parts such as limbs and even organs!

Salamander lifespan: captivity vs. the wild

Isolated photo of salamander
A salamander is saying hello!

© Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

Salamanders typically live 10-15 years in captivity and 5-10 years in the wild. What caused this huge difference in lifespan?

These salamanders face many threats in their native habitat, including predators, disease and habitat loss.

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However, life in captivity is not always easy. Like many exotic pets, salamanders are often treated with substandard care.

Parents may buy one for their child, thinking that aquatic animals are easy-care pets. They can also be impulse buys, as many people do with small animals.

A well-cared for newt can live up to 20 years, so adopting one is a huge commitment not to be taken lightly!

Salamander Development and Life Cycle

Salamanders spend their entire lives in water and even reproduce underwater. Their breeding season is from December to June, and females can lay up to 1,000 eggs in a single season!

Once hatched, the salamanders are left in a jelly-like substance. They grow a head and body before entering the larval stage.

Baby salamanders are transparent and don't have legs until two weeks into the larval stage. They remain in this stage until they reach sexual maturity and are able to reproduce at six months of age.

Salamanders are considered fully grown at one year old.

What is the most common cause of salamander death?

A white salamander swims among grassy reeds underwater
A white salamander swims among grassy reeds underwater

© Pouzin Olivier/Creative Commons

predator

Salamanders don't have many ways to defend themselves. They are slow and have no teeth or claws. This makes them easy prey for predators in the wild.

Invasive species introduced to natives also prey on salamanders.

pollute

Their small, native habitat in lakes near Mexico City has been a source of decline for salamander populations. The species was nearly extinct in 2010 due to water pollution and is still endangered in the wild.

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health problems

Salamanders are susceptible to health problems such as fluid buildup, tumors, bacteria, fungi, and parasites.

Some health problems in salamanders stem from inbreeding. Unfortunately, their gene pool will only get smaller as they become endangered in the wild.

Many conditions also stem from poor care, such as lack of filtration in the tank, dirty water, or injuries from improper tank setup or handling.

Poor care

In captivity, poor care can kill vulnerable newts. Although they are relatively adaptable compared to most fish species, they still have specific requirements that must be met – such as cool waters, a large tank and a suitable substrate at the bottom of the tank.

Always do your research before adopting a pet, and don't trust a pet store to tell you what's best. They are usually only concerned with selling the animal and not with what happens after adoption.

Due to their fragile bodies and limbs, and their slimy coat, salamanders should not be handled or removed from the water.

The slime coating is a protective layer against bacteria and parasites. If the salamander is taken out of the water, it can be wiped off by hand or left to dry – so they are just a cosmetic, don't touch pets!

Finally, salamanders have been known to jump out of tanks. Covers are a must to keep them alive and in the water where they belong.

How does the lifespan of axolotls compare to other salamanders?

Largest salamander - Japanese giant salamander
Japanese giant salamanders – as you can see, they are much larger than salamanders

©iStock.com/Martin Voeller

The oldest salamander lived to be around 52 years old. They are Japanese giant salamanders at Amsterdam Zoo. There are reports that the Chinese giant salamander may live longer—media reports say 200 years—but without more information, the lifespan of the giant salamander remains unknown. However, these giant salamanders, the largest salamanders in the world, are not very closely related to salamanders.

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More comparable are the tiger salamander, which typically lives 10-16 years, and the spotted newt, which lives about 20 years.

next…

  • Salamander Colors: 10 Variations of Salamanders Did you know that there are many different kinds of salamanders?
  • Pet Fish Guide: What You Need to Know This is a great guide to get you ready to bring home your new pet fish.
  • Types of Longevity Pet Fish There are many other types of aquarium companions that have a long lifespan.

Next:

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  • The 15 Deepest Lakes in America
  • Watch rare coyotes and bobcats now

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featured image

Isolated photo of salamander

© Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com


about the author

heather hall


I'm a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by nature. When I do my daily runs, I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I have two dogs that take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

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