Salamanders are carnivorous amphibians that eat live food whether they're captive or free in the wild. Aquatic baby salamanders, which lose their gills and become terrestrial as they mature, eat a slightly different diet than adults, which eat many types of worms and insects.
Diet of the Wild Salamander
The salamander enjoys a variety of bugs and critters in the wild. What he eats is dependent on his size. He will eat almost anything that moves and is small enough that he can swallow it. The wild salamander dines on centipedes, worms, spiders, slugs, maggots, flies, termites and snails. Large salamanders include frogs and smaller salamanders in their diets. Aquatic salamanders in the wild consume insect larvae, worms, crayfish, snails, tiny fish and other small aquatic animals.
What to Feed Immature Salamanders
Immature salamanders are aquatic and have gills attached to the sides of their heads. Feed your baby salamander live tubifex worms, baby brine shrimp, daphnia or water fleas, white worms and black worms. Night crawlers can be given if they are cut into small pieces. As the juveniles grow larger they will eat ghost shrimp and small crayfish. Most salamanders will not eat freeze-dried or frozen food. The movement of live food attracts them.
What to Feed Adult Salamanders
Feed adult salamanders every two to three days. In cooler environments they may eat only once a week. Give your adult salamander live grubs, earthworms, slugs, waxworms, lesser waxworms and crickets coated with a calcium-and-vitamin powder. Feed gutload to the crickets for a few days before giving them to your salamander to increase their nutritional value. you can feed newborn mice to larger species once a month. A varied diet is recommended. Don't feed wild-caught bugs and worms to your salamander; a risk of disease and chemical exposure exists. Purchase live food and supplements from pet stores, bait shops and live food dealers.
Feeding Smaller Species of Salamanders
Feed smaller bugs and worms to your small terrestrial salamander. Give him fruitflies, small grubs, pinhead crickets that have been fed gutload and earthworms that have been cut into small pieces. Feed him a varied assortment of these for proper nutrition. Coat the crickets with a calcium and vitamin powder before giving them to your salamander. Don't feed waxworms, lesser waxworms, large crickets, whole earthworms or newborn mice to smaller salamanders.
How to Feed Your Salamander
Avoid touching your salamander with your hands. Toxic oils and chemicals on your skin can be absorbed through his skin and cause harm to him. Use tweezers to grasp the live food. Hold it in front of your salamander's face; he should grab for it when it wiggles. Let him eat until he is full. This may take up to 10 minutes. Remove any uneaten food from his tank.
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Karen Mihaylo has been a writer since 2009. She has been a professional dog groomer since 1982 and is certified in canine massage therapy. Mihaylo holds an associate degree in human services from Delaware Technical and Community College.