Salamanders keep getting into my house overnight

On damp nights, slimy salamanders (Plethodon) will occasionally wind up in my kitchen. I can only assume they can squeeze between the cracks of doors, since there are no open fissures and we keep doors closed overnight.

Most of the time we find them in the morning and release them unharmed, but this morning I found one that had been inside for several hours at least. As there is no moisture in the house it had dried and there were all manners of lint, dust, and pet hair stuck to it. I didn’t know what to do, so I gave it a bath in warm clean water, picked off the scraps, and let it go. I checked on it a few hours later; it was still alive but it didn’t look like it was doing so well. What could I have done differently, if anything?

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I wouldn’t know for sure what the best way to care for a salamander is, but if this happens often you could always invest in a small terrarium to let them recover in before you release them. Alternatively, maybe install some draft guards and see if that will keep them out of your kitchen.

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leave out a dish of water?

Interesting problem that I haven’t heard of before. I would probably just err on the side of minimal handling and put it back outside as soon as you can in a sheltered, moist microhabitat (even with all the lint and such). Salamanders do get things stuck to them in nature, and I bet it would get pulled off as they crawl under things, etc.

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I’d suggest cool water (ambient temperature) rather than warm. Salamanders are sensitive to temperature changes. But chances are it was already very dehydrated. You might also want to make sure you release it in a cool damp shady place, such as beside a log it can crawl under. If it happens again you could also see if there is a wildlife rehab centre near you - they might have better advice.

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Tap water often has additives to it (fluoride, etc.) used to keep the water safe to drink and bolster dental health (usually there are contaminants as well) but these may not be great for Plethodontid buddies. You could use a water purifier kept at room temp for the odd case of kitchen Caudates, but I also wonder if you just got to your interloper a little late.

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Thanks for the advice, all. Most salamanders before probably arrived in the early morning, as they were all very lively and sticky. This one however felt like rubber when I picked it up, which probably meant it didn’t make it despite my best efforts. Upsetting, sure, but it doesn’t happen often enough for me to consider making investments.