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Arkansas, United States
Scientific name: Siren lacertina
Type: Newts / Salamanders
Habitat / Place of Origin: Greater Sirens can be found anywhere on the East Coast of North America, from Washington DC to Florida. They are fully aquatic and nocturnal, so they are not often seen. For the most part they burrow under mud, rocks and other debris to stay safe. They are found in most bodies of water including ditches, streams, rivers, lakes/ponds and swamps.
Size and Coloration: The Greater Siren is the largest of the 3 Siren species, and may exceed 3 ft in length. They highly resemble eels because of their long smooth bodies. Sirens have external gills for breathing under water with short stubby front limbs with 4 toes and they lack rear limbs. Coloration is usually dark brown, olive, to black. Young ones have a stripe on the side of their bodies, but it is lost upon reaching adulthood.
Caging: Since they can get pretty large, Sirens need a large tank or tub. Young Sirens can be temporarily kept in a 55-75 gallon tank. Adults 2ft and larger will require a 75 to 100 plus gallon tank. They will need a secure lid as they will push to get out at times.
Captive Care: Water temperatures for the siren should stay cool, and not over 70F with the temperature range being 60-68F. Filtration will be needed to provide oxygen rich water and to help clean the tank. Water plants make a great addition with the Water Hyacinth being the most commonly used for sirens. If this plant is not available or considered an invasive plant species in your area, other water plants may be used as well as other hides like those sold in pet stores. They do best with water plants that create a tangled mass of roots and stems. The substrate for the bottom could be a mixture of sand, gravel, thick mud, and rocks. Like any aquatic animal, regular tank cleanings and water changes is a must. Always clean out uneaten food to avoid spoiling the water. All water used should be left out for 24 hours in open buckets or treated to remove the chlorine.
Breeding: Siren reproduction has never been observed and therefore not much is known about its reproduction habits. However, it is known that mating occurs throughout February to March and that the eggs usually hatch out around two months later. Fertilization is thought to occur externally.
Diet: Greater Sirens are effective predators that can eat anything from crayfish, insects, worms, snails, and even small fish. Crickets have also been used for feeding. Sometimes tong feeding is necessary.
Temperament: Since Sirens are a species which should not be handled, their temperament is rather docile. If stunned or scared, they will emit a yelping sound. They can aestivate up to a year with their bodies slowing down by 70% when their bodies of water dries up. They create a cocoon of mucus and will live that way until the water returns.