What do Salamanders Eat?
Scientists say that salamanders have been around for 150 million years, so you would think that by now we could answer with certainty, the question, “what do salamanders eat?” There are three-hundred-eighty species of salamanders and over two hundred of them are scattered across North America, South and Central America. Salamanders can be found at all sea levels from 0 to 13,000 feet.
What do salamanders eat” is a question that will depend on what kind of salamander it is. There are three different groups of salamanders: aquatic, semi-aquatic and terrestrial. Aquatic salamanders spend most of their time in the water, semi-aquatic divide their time between water and land, and the terrestrial salamanders spend all of their time on land. Some salamanders have gills, while others have gills that develop into lungs. All of them need to take in oxygen which can be done through their skin or lungs, and some of the salamanders without lungs can take in oxygen through their mouths.
Many people confuse salamanders and lizards, but salamanders do not have claws or scales. All types of salamanders are kept as pets but they have very smooth, sensitive skin and should not be handled and petted as is done with lizards. It depends on the type of salamander as to what kind of food should be provided. Aquatic salamanders need to be fed what they would eat in the wild–crustaceans or tiny, aquatic insects, like water fleas. You can buy brine shrimp and other live crustaceans at pet shops and through online suppliers.
All salamanders are carnivores. If you have a semi-aquatic or terrestrial salamander, you can collect some insects for it during the summer months or simply go the easier route by buying the food. Salamanders can only be fed live food because it is only the movement of the insect which alerts the salamander to the fact that food is present. Terrestrial and semi-aquatic salamanders can eat crickets, flies, cockroaches, slugs, locusts, pill bugs, aphids, moths, millipedes and beetles.
One thing to be careful of is to never introduce the larvae of a carnivorous insect, such as a beetle, into the salamander habitat. They will eat the salamander larvae. Some salamander owners feed a lot of mealworms but these are not the best kind to use. They simply do not have enough nutritional content when compared to other worms. It is much better to feed super worms, kingworms, black worms, white worms and kingworms.
Make sure to give your salamander only the amount of food that can be eaten in one sitting. If you have a salamander that doesn’t hibernate, it’s good in winter to supplement its food with vitamins. You can buy a vitamin powder and dip the insects or worms in it before putting the food in the tank.
Sometimes people do not know the answer to the “what do salamanders eat” question until after they already have a salamander. That’s never good! Always do your research on the type of salamander you are going to buy and know what it eats and what its habitat needs are well in advance of bringing your pet home. Some people mistakenly think that they can feed a salamander dead insects. While once in a while you may find such a case, it is a rarity. Always be prepared to feed live prey. If you think buying live insects and worms takes too much planning, you can always raise your own insects. Earthworms, mealworms, beetles and fruit flies are all easily grown at home. You can even raise guppies for your aquatic salamander to eat.
Whatever kind of food you ultimately feed your salamander, make sure it is fresh and as nutritious as possible. Your salamander is counting on you to make his captive environment as close to his native habitat as possible.