If you're thinking about getting a pet salamander, you'll need to know what to feed him. Salamanders are carnivores, but the exact type of food you should feed varies based on the species you have and whether it is a baby or an adult.
According to the Michigan State University Museum, gilled salamander larvae are a bit challenging to feed because they are aquatic but carnivorous. Some foods they will eat include:
- Tubifex worms
- Live baby brine shrimp
As they grow larger, immature salamanders can eat small worms and will even feed on one another. Caudata Culture offers an excellent list of foods to feed salamanders and the benefits of each type.
Once salamanders lose their gills, they can be fed a bit more easily, and most of the foods pet salamanders need are available at local pet supply stores. Caudata Culture recommends feeding adult salamanders a variety of small, live foods, including:
- Waxworms (fed occasionally)
- Crickets (dusted or gut-loaded)
- Small-size Dubia feeder roaches
- The occasional pinkie mouse (available at local pet shops that sell snakes)
How to Feed
Feeding your Salamander is fairly simple. You will need:
- Live food (insects or worms)
- Reptile vitamins or calcium powder
- Small forceps or tweezers
To feed your pet:
- Grasp the cricket, worm or insect with the forceps. According to the care sheet prepared by the New England Herpetological Society, insects should be coated in reptile vitamin powder or calcium powder every few feedings.
- Hold the insect about an inch from the salamander's nose. He should take it rapidly, so be ready to release the insect from the forceps.
How often you feed your pet depends a lot on the age of your salamander, his appetite, the temperature he is kept at, and many other factors. As a general rule, feed daily if he seems interested, but only feed as much as he will eat in a single sitting and then remove any remaining food from his cage.
Some salamanders may only want to eat once every couple of days, so don't worry too much if your pet is willing to eat one day and refuses the next. As long as he feeds again in another day or two, all should be well. If he refuses after that, you should call your vet for further advice.
Salamander Diet by Species
Although salamanders of all types are carnivorous and their diets may appear similar, there are a few preferences among different strains of salamanders. Knowing the types of foods that your particular breed of salamander enjoys in the wild can help with a finicky eater.
- Small snails
- Wax worms
- Small mice (for larger salamanders and only occasionally)
- Minnows (for large specimens)
Spotted salamanders are nocturnal feeders in the wild according to National Geographic. They emerge from their hiding spots after the sun sets and eating prey like:
According to the University of Michigan's BioKIDS website, the blue-spotted salamander can survive in captivity quite well on a single worm a week. In the wild, they eat from a wide variety of live foods, such as:
Reptile Channel claims that crickets are an excellent staple of a good diet for a fire salamander. For variety, you can also feed:
- Wax worms
- Small mealworms
- Silkmoth larvae
- Pinkie mice (feed only once a month)
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the redback salamander enjoys eating:
- Insect larvae
Consult Your Pet Store or Breeder
When you purchase your salamander, consult with the breeder or pet store about which foods they have been feeding your pet and how often. It is best to keep the diet as similar as possible and introduce new foods slowly for a successful transition to a new home.