If you have a pet salamander or newt, or are simply an amphibian lover, then chances are you have heard about the very worrying news last week about a new fungal disease that is killing off salamanders in Europe.
Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) seems to have originated in Asia where it co-exists with local salamander species and was probably accidentally introduced by humans into Europe. With North America being so important for salamanders we need to protect both wild and captive salamanders and newts as quickly as possible.
As we work with our partners to address the threats to wild populations we also want to help you keep your pets as safe as possible. To help with this process we highly recommend the following three steps:
1. Bleach Waste Water
Before you dispose of any wastewater from aquaria or terrariums that might have come in contact with your pet salamanders or newts, you should add bleach before you dispose of it. Although the science is still out on the concentration of bleach needed to inactivate Bsal, the following concentrations very likely will kill it based on research with similar pathogens: a ratio of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water for a minimum of 10 minutes OR 1 part bleach to 3 parts water for one 1 minute. Bleach can be added directly to aquarium water, or a solution mixed and sides of the aquarium and its contents disinfected by spraying or wiping the solution on surfaces. Bleach is toxic to amphibians and fish, so never let your pets come in to contact with bleach. After disinfecting for the specified duration, you should rinse your aquarium thoroughly with clean water. Bleach breaks down quickly in the environment so an additional precaution is letting the aquarium air dry for >24 hours after rinsing.
2. Don’t Release Captive Salamanders into the Wild
More important than ever, please don’t release your pets into the wild. If a captive salamander or newt has Bsal and ends up in the wild it could be devastating for wild populations. If you have a salamander that you are no longer able to look after try contacting your local herpetological society, humane society or zoo.
3. Get Tested
Finally get your pet salamander and newts tested. The easiest way to be sure that your salamander is healthy and does not pose a risk to wild populations is to get it tested for Bsal. For a limited time only we are offering to test the first 500 swabs that we receive from pet salamanders and newts in the Contiguous US. Sign up below and we will send you a FREE SAMPLE KIT and let you know the results as soon as we have them.
By doing all this you are not only protecting your salamanders but also the wild salamanders that we all enjoy so much.
Please share this information with your friends, online through social media and your favorite forums, local herpetological societies and pet stores.