Home | Amphibians | New Edition of Newts and Salamanders, A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual, is Published

New Edition of Newts and Salamanders, A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual, is Published

Barred Tiger SalamanderI’ve recently finished writing a revision of my 1997 book Newts and Salamanders and would like to introduce it here and to thank everyone for their past support and kind comments.

Care and Natural History

Although technically a captive care manual, I’ve included a great deal of natural history information garnered from a lifetime of working with amphibians as well as research updates from technical and popular journals.  Captive breeding is stressed, with specific advice given for each species covered. 

There are also chapters on classification, senses and behavior, terrarium set-up and maintenance (ranging from basic to highly complex, planted exhibits and outdoor enclosures) nutrition, collecting and rearing food animals, health care and obtaining specimens.


The book is illustrated with 80 new, brilliant photographs, the majority taken by friend and Herp World legend Dick Bartlett.  Others are the work of Zig Leszczynski, whose lifetime of contributions to the field cannot be overstated.

Photos of rarely seen species abound – the Flatwoods, Texas Blind, Spring, Anderson’s, Red-Cheeked, Painted Ensatina, Scott’s Barr and Red-Legged Salamander – to name a few.


The species covered in detail range from pet trade staples through US natives that rarely appear in the trade but are none-the-less well suited to terrarium life.  Also included are a number of salamanders that are at present seen only in the collections of advanced hobbyists.

Following is a small sample of the newts and salamanders that are discussed at length:

Eastern Newt

Mexican Axolotl


Tiger, Spotted and Marbled Salamanders


Lesser and Dwarf Siren

Red Backed SalamanderRed-Backed Salamander


Fire Salamander

One, Two and Three Toed Amphiumas

California Newt

Fire Bellied Newt

Dusky Salamander

Spanish Ribbed Newt

Northern Red Salamander


Barred Tiger Salamander image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by OpenCage
Red-backed Salamander image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Brian.Gratwicke


  1. avatar

    Hi Frank, me again.

    I just found the first nutrition article available to ask my question.

    I have just put together a fairly complete feeder nutrition page detailing the protein, fat, calcium, Ca:P. We know too many proteins can cause health issues, too few can as well. How much fat is too much? Who are the people to ask?

    Your time very appreciated.
    Thanks ~ Pat

    • avatar

      Hello Pat, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Nice to hear from you again.

      Unfortunately, we know very little about the role of fats in the diets of reptiles and amphibians, other than that they vary greatly from species to species. For example, Gila Monsters (not a recommended pet!) naturally consume a high-fat diet (eggs, nestling rodents) and do fine on such in zoos. However, insectivorous herps that are fed a high fat diet (pink mice) often develop lipid deposits in the eyes and kidney/liver problems. This has been documented in tiger salamanders, basilisks, leopard geckos, White’s treefrogs and others.

      I’ll post updates on this topic as they appear, and would appreciate any info you moght come across as well.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  2. avatar

    **Sigh** I was afraid I might hear that answer. Once again, returned to the limbo of variety is our safest option to maintain the health of our buddies, with no clear directions. The zoos must have some formulas they are using, examples of diets they are feeding would give us little guys some help…could you advocate in your circle for that? Or find just a couple for us.

    A suggestion I have, there have been studies done on stomach contents of wild specimens. I have one such breakdown on my page on boscs, unfortunately, it is a foreign language to me and as a simple hobbiest attempting to translate it, fries my brain cells. 😀

    Would this option for getting information to the average joe be a viable route?

    As always, your time, and mind appreciated.


    • avatar

      Hello Pat, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Unfortunately, zoo diets vary widely, especially with herps, there is a great deal of experimentation, trial and error. None are published, other than sometimes on the AZA website ..it’s not open to the public, but I keep tabs on it and revise my recommendations accordingly. Standardized diets more common for herbivorous herps, some pelleted diets are useful for tortoises but by no means complete. There really are few general rules for groups – each species must be addressed individually. Please let me know if you have any specific interests. I’ve long been involved in formulating diets for a number of zoos and aquariums, and will do my best to help.

      There are many stomach-content studies out there, mostly published in professional journals i.e. Copeia, and they are useful in a general way, especially for zoos with access to a wide variety of food items. A stumbling block, in addition to the un-availability of many natural food items, is the fact that the nutritional profile of the food consumed varies widely – for example, a cricket of the same species in the wild in Florida in summer, in Georgia in the fall, and in a pet store in NYC, will not provide the same nutrients when consumed…add to this the fact that most herps consume hundreds of species and you can see the scope of the problem. Same considerations re soil that food plants are rooted in, etc. Again, if I can help out with specific species please write back,

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    trying to find salsmanders for an outdoor pond have fish and frogs zone7 northern maryland thanks kee

    • avatar

      Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog. It’s difficult to mix fishes and salamanders – larger aquatic species such as mudpuppies eat fishes, and the fishes nibble at their gills. Newts and smaller salamanders are always outcompeted for food by fish. But please let me know what species of fish and frogs you have, water temperature and pH, type of filtration, pond size and I’ll see if there are any possibilities.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  1. Pingback: When Keeping Amphibians As Pets, It Is Important To Follow Recommendations | Pet Reptile and Amphibian Supply

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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