How to Keep Your New Mud Puppy

Aqualand's inside scoop on Necturus maculosus

 
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Different Watersprite

Mud Puppy Factoids

Origin

N.E. USA

Temperature

Room temp fine

Size One foot likely.  18 inches reported
Tank Size Bigger the better
Attitude Nocturnal eater that prefers to hide during the day

Security

Prefers to live under a rock when the sun shines

Foods

Fish, amphibians, worms, crayfish, snails

Sexual Maturity Ready to breed at five years (for another 5 years)
Life Span 30+ years

Breeding

30 to 100+ eggs in spring under a rock

Threats

Dirty water and uneducated hobbyists

 

 


LA
Just arrived, fresh out of the bag.  Crud on face proved fatal.

Origin:  Mud puppies come from our N.E. US states.  They are not common or they would not cost so much.  They are, however, cool -- especially when you see them eat -- like a Hoover.  Their red external gills are also eye-catching.  And they’re pretty good-sized.  Unless they’re hiding, you can’t miss them.  In Iowa, what many people call mud puppies are the waterdogs, the larvae of our tiger salamander.  Mud puppies keep their external gills.

LA
You cannot miss this guy.  Mud puppies do catch your eye.

Size:  Some reports say some strains of mud puppies grow very large -- much larger than we’ve ever seen (or expect to see).  We’re still looking for Sasquatch, too.  We’d guesstimate mud puppies are at least a foot shorter than the hellbenders (another seldom seen US amphibian) which we haven’t seen for a couple decades.



LA
Mud puppies flare out those external gills when they need more oxygen.

Temperature:  Mud puppies do not need a heater.  In fact, warm water contains less oxygen, so put yours in the cooler part of the house.

LA
Handle your mud puppy no more than necessary.  It's hard on their skin.

Limit Handling:  1.  Mud puppies do not like you to handle them.  2.  Your hands can damage their delicate skin.  3.  They exude a toxin that gets on your skin (and could get in your eyes).  4.  Mud puppies can bite you pretty hard.

LA
Mud puppies get along together, but they fill up a tank fast.  Separate them.

Sort of Communal:  You can mix mud puppies but why?  They need quite a bit of room because of their size.  They eat a lot and excrete a lot.  Keeping them separate makes it easier to keep them clean.  And, it makes it easier to control their waste products.

LA
Gulping air or looking for the emergency exit?

LA
Note that he is three inches above the water surface.  He wants out, out, out.

 

Keep Covered:  Mud puppies may sport external gills but they sure act like they breathe air also.  Any critter assuming this position is quite capable of climbing out of your tank.  He is bulky enough to bounce his lid off.  When he hits the rug, his biological clock starts running down fast.

LA
This mud puppy was curled up in his cave which we just lifted.

LA
This mud puppy's "burrowed into" the hole in his bog wood.

Needs to Hide:  Your mud puppy will do his best to disappear during the day.  Sometimes he thinks he’s hiding if only his head is covered (he can't see you, so you can’t see him).  He comes out at night and poses a real threat to any bite-size critters.  Feeder goldfish disappear overnight.

LA
This mud puppy eats, chews, spits, and re-eats just like a lungfish.

Eats Well:  Your mud puppy might be nocturnal but he won’t skip many daytime meals -- especially nightcrawlers.  Mud puppies inhale the entire worm, masticate it, spit it out, and repeat several times.  Lungfish do the same thing.  Crayfish make tasty treats also.  You probably need to snap off (or snip off) the pincers on larger crayfish.

LA
Top view of your mud puppy.

Sexing/Breeding:  You need more room than you want to provide to coax your mud puppy to breed.  They mature sexually at five years and breed for at least five more years.  You can probably sex them like newts and salamanders, but you’ll not likely breed them.

LA
He is an intriguing looking critter.

Last Words:  Since mud puppies live three decades, you might want to think thrice about adding one to your menagerie or your ménage.  And they do not make good pets around kids.  Kids have no sense about sticking their fingers in strange animals’ mouths.  Ditto some adults.    LA

© 2005, © 2006 LA Productions

3600 Sixth Avenue

Corner of Sixth & Euclid Avenues

Des Moines, IA 50313

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