Added 15 June 2000
Frankly you're unlikely ever to see one of these in the zoo, let alone for sale to a private buyer, as both are protected under CITES I and are included here for interest as much as anything. Both the Chinese and Japanese Giant Salamander live in cool flowing mountain streams, the conditions of which would have to be replicated in a captive environment. That's a lot of water and a lot of electricity. Feeding would be less of a problem as these primordial giants will apparently take anything, even ducks if stories about the Chinese Giant Salamander are true. They are truly fascinating creatures, if somewhat unappealing to the ordinary human eye.
The Olm is a bizarre-looking creature about 11" in length with an elongated, albino body, large red external gills, degenerate eyes beneath the skin and three fingers on the forelimbs and two toes on the rear limb. This strange species is confined to one unique habitat, the cave systems of the Eastern Alps in Austria and W. Yugoslavia. This underground environment is dark and apparently quite germ-free (Indiviglio) with a high calcium content in the water due to the limestone rock which forms it. Needless to say the water is also fairly cold. Thus the keeper of olms faces fairly demanding requirements: cold, hard and very clean water, dim light if not darkness, a large tank and very powerful motors to simulate the underground currents. Despite this, some European keepers have succeeded in maintaining olms, including reproduction, but due to their restricted environment and rarity the species is now covered by the CITES agreement. Click here or here for articles by Arne Hodalic on the olm.