I like amphibians, lizards, and all kinds of small reptiles. So, I always enjoy seeing a salamander scurrying across the floor – as does my cat.
Most small creatures and this includes salamanders, are the perfect prey targets for cats.
They move quickly, are often willing to get close to cats, humans, and other animals, and can provide quite the game of cat and mouse (well, cat and salamander).
As with all wildlife, and lizards, in particular, you need to be aware of any health risks to your kitty. If your cat comes into contact with the wrong salamander, there are actually some serious health risks.
What Exactly Are Salamanders?
Salamanders are amphibians that have a very lizard-like body type, with a head that looks like a small toad or frog. (As you will see from the various images in this post).
According to Earths Friends, there are an estimated 500+ species of amphibians that are classified as salamanders. So, it can be tricky knowing exactly which type of salamander your cat comes into contact with.
It’s important to note that salamanders are not actually lizards. If you thought they were, don’t feel bad. I think most people assume salamanders are a type of lizard, but they have some key differences.
Salamanders do not have claws, scales, or external ear openings. Three key physical features that separate them from lizards.
They are found all over the world, but the US has the most diverse and largest number of salamanders in the world. There are a whopping 22 different species in Pennsylvania alone. So, even if you’ve never seen one in the wild and live in the US, I’d check which types you have in your state.
Think you have scorpions in your area? Read do cats eat scorpions.
Are Salamanders Poisonous to Cats?
All salamanders are poisonous to some extent. Some are so mild that there isn’t really a risk to be concerned about, while some are so poisonous that it can be fatal for cats to play around with or eat.
Salamanders excrete poisons through the glands in their skin when they are handled. It’s a defense mechanism to try and stop other creatures eating them, and who can blame them!
The problem for your kitty is that this poison will get into their mouths if they try to lick, pick them up, or bite them. It’s also easily transferred from their paws to other areas of their bodies when they handle them.
This means, as a general rule it’s not a good idea to let your cat come into contact with any type of salamander. If you can do anything to stop them that is….
Salamander Poisoning Symptoms
If your cat has come into contact with a salamander some of the potential symptoms include:
- Excessive salivating and drooling
- Retching or vomiting
- Pawing at their mouths in obvious discomfort
- Difficulty walking or standing
- Muscle convulsions or paralysis
- At worst, rapid health deterioration and even death
With so many different species of salamander presenting such a wide and varied range of toxins, it’s hard to pinpoint what to expect. If you think your cat has come into contact with a salamander the best thing you can do is get them to a vet asap.
If you can get a look at or a positive ID of the salamander they touched, this could prove to be very helpful for their treatment.
If your cat was lucky enough to avoid being poisoned by a salamander’s, there’s also a risk of them contracting liver flukes. Liver flukes are parasitic worms that newts and salamanders can carry. When ingested, they travel from the intestines to bile ducts in the liver where they live and grow.
While this sounds very nasty (and it is) there are medications that will treat a liver fluke infection if a cat when it’s been properly diagnosed.
Are All Lizards Poisonous to Cats?
As I explained earlier, salamanders are not lizards. They do look like lizards, however, so you may be here looking for more information regarding lizards and other amphibious creatures.
So, to answer this question – not all lizards are poisonous to cats, no. However, with more than 4,675 different species of lizards, it’s hard to go through all the types that are potentially harmful, or not.
Depending on where you live, it shouldn’t be too hard to find out which lizards are known to be in your area though. I’d start by looking into this, then establishing which, if any are potentially dangerous to your kitty.
The Differences Between Salamanders and Newts
You might be familiar with some of the common types of newts that can be found across the country. Salamanders are often called newts, and newts are referred to as salamanders. The words are used interchangeably.
There are some subtle differences, however, as Mother Nature Network points out;
- Newts live semi-aquatic lives as adults, while salamanders spend most of their time on land
- Newts have webbed feet to help them swim, while salamanders have claws with clearly defined toes
There are also some poisonous newts to be aware of. Although very rare, the rough-skinned newt is one of the most poisonous amphibians on the planet. They’re typically found in the Pacific Northwest and I’ve heard them being referred to as a California newt on occasion.
Some Commonly Asked Questions About Salamanders
Are Black Salamanders Poisonous to Cats?
Black salamanders are kept as pets in some parts of the world, but they’re pretty rare. It’s very unlikely your cat will come into contact with one in the wild.
Which is a good thing as they are fairly poisonous when touched. It’s not well known just how poisonous they are to cats, and it’s better not to find out.
Are Marbled Salamanders Poisonous to Cats?
Marbled salamanders are commonly kept as pets. They are nice looking amphibians, with white marbling patterns running down their spines.
They use their tails to warn off predators, excreting poison from their tails which causing some serious irritation when touched.
Are Fire Salamanders Poisonous to Cats?
Fire salamanders are the best-known species of salamander across Europe. They have black bodies with bright yellow patches, and pretty poisonous to animals and humans when threatened.
They can spray and excrete poison when under threat, which can cause muscle convulsions, irritation, and sickness.