Newt Feeding Guide: What Do Newts Eat?

Newt Feeding Guide

Have you ever gazed at a newt and wondered, “What’s on its dinner plate?” These mesmerizing little amphibians, with their delicate limbs and vibrant colors, have dietary preferences as fascinating as their appearance.

Newts primarily consume small invertebrates. In the wild, they feed on insects, worms, crustaceans, and mollusks. In captivity, their diet includes live food like bloodworms, daphnia, and brine shrimp. As they mature, their diet shifts from primarily aquatic prey to more terrestrial invertebrates.

Whether you’re a newt owner or just a curious soul, this guide will take you on a culinary journey into the world of newts. Let’s uncover what tickles their taste buds!

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What Do Newts Eat In The Wild?

Wild newts are nocturnal creatures, meaning they are most active during the night. During the day, terrestrial newts seek shelter in dark, moist areas such as under logs, stones, and other hiding spots.

Aquatic newts, on the other hand, find refuge under patches of vegetation and dense underwater weeds.

Hunting Techniques:

Active Search: One common method newts employ is actively searching their surroundings for food.

Ambush Predation: Another strategy is the sit-and-wait approach, where the newt remains stationary and ambushes prey as it comes close.

Opportunistic Feeding: Occasionally, newts exhibit a more aggressive feeding behavior where they attempt to eat anything that moves. This behavior is especially evident in adult newts, which might even tackle prey larger than themselves, such as sizable earthworms. Despite the challenge, they often manage to swallow these larger prey items whole.

Dietary Preferences:

Terrestrial Diet: On land, newts are fond of insects, worms, slugs, various invertebrates, and even the eggs of other amphibians.

Aquatic Diet: In water, their diet expands to include leeches, water lice, water fleas, shrimps, mayfly nymphs, freshwater shrimps, seed shrimps, small crustaceans, water boatmen, insect larvae, and other aquatic invertebrates.

They also consume mosquitoes, sawflies, ants, bees, wasps, beetles, millipedes, and tadpoles.

Prey-Catching Mechanism:

Sticky Tongue Technique: Similar to frogs, terrestrial newts have a sticky tongue that they use to capture prey. Once a prey item like a snail, spider, worm, mite, or fly is stuck to their tongue, they retract it quickly, much like a fast-acting fishing reel.

Aquatic Hunting: The hunting dynamics change in water since the sticky tongue mechanism is less effective. Instead, they rely on their strong jaws.

Jaw Adaptations: While newts lack conventional teeth, they possess what are known as vomerine teeth in their jaws. These specialized structures allow them to grip and hold onto their prey effectively, aiding in swallowing.

What Do Newts Eat As Pets?

Newts, which are a type of salamander, are carnivorous amphibians. When kept as pets, their diet should mimic what they would eat in the wild as closely as possible.

Here’s a general overview of what pet newts typically eat:

Live Foods:

Newts prefer live foods, and these can make up the bulk of their diet.

  • Bloodworms: These are a favorite for many newts. They can be offered live or frozen (and then thawed).
  • Tubifex Worms: Another popular choice. Like bloodworms, they can be offered live or frozen.
  • Brine Shrimp: Especially good for smaller or younger newts.
  • Daphnia (Water Fleas): These tiny crustaceans are another good option for smaller newts.
  • Small Insects: Such as pinhead crickets or fruit flies can be offered to terrestrial or semi-aquatic newts.
  • Earthworms: These can be cut into smaller pieces if they are too large.
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Pelleted Foods:

There are commercial pelleted foods available that are formulated for amphibians. These can be a good supplement to live foods, but shouldn’t be the sole source of nutrition.

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Occasional Foods:

  • Small Crustaceans: Such as gammarus can be offered occasionally.
  • Small Fish: Some larger newt species might eat small fish like guppies, but this should be an occasional treat and not a staple.

Vitamins and Minerals:

It’s a good idea to dust the live food with a calcium supplement a couple of times a week. Additionally, a multivitamin supplement can be used once a week.

Feeding Frequency:

This can vary depending on the species and age of the newt.

Younger newts might eat daily, while adults might eat every other day or even less frequently.

Things To Be Aware Of While Feeding Newt

Feeding newts requires some care and attention to ensure their health and well-being. Here are some things to be aware of while feeding your pet newt:

Overfeeding: Overfeeding can lead to obesity and other health issues. It’s essential to feed the appropriate amount and monitor your newt’s body condition. If your newt becomes inactive or appears bloated, you might be feeding too much.

Underfeeding: On the other hand, underfeeding can lead to malnutrition. If your newt appears thin or weak, it might not be getting enough food.

Food Size: The size of the food should be appropriate for the size of the newt. A general rule is that the food item should not be larger than the newt’s head.

Variety: A varied diet is crucial for providing all the necessary nutrients. Relying on just one type of food can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

feeding newt

Quality of Food: Always ensure that the food you provide is fresh and free from contamination. Avoid feeding wild-caught insects or other creatures as they might carry pesticides or parasites.

Supplements: Dusting food with calcium and vitamin supplements is essential, especially if you’re not feeding a varied diet. However, be careful not to over-supplement, as this can also cause health issues.

Cleanliness: Remove uneaten food from the tank after feeding to prevent it from rotting and contaminating the water. This is especially important for aquatic and semi-aquatic newts.

Water Quality: For aquatic and semi-aquatic newts, maintaining clean water is crucial. Contaminated water can lead to infections and other health problems. Ensure the water is dechlorinated and check the water parameters regularly.

Feeding Environment: Ensure that the feeding environment is safe. For example, if you’re feeding your newt outside its regular enclosure, make sure it’s secure and free from potential hazards.

Observation: Always observe your newt during and after feeding. This can help you notice any changes in appetite, behavior, or health.

Avoid Stress: Try not to stress your newt during feeding. Sudden movements, loud noises, or other disturbances can cause stress and make your newt less likely to eat.

Handling: It’s best to avoid handling your newt immediately before or after feeding. Handling can cause stress and might also disrupt digestion.

Research: Different species of newts have different dietary needs. It’s essential to research the specific requirements of your newt species and adjust the diet accordingly.

Consultation: If you’re unsure about your newt’s dietary needs or if you notice any health issues, consult with a veterinarian who specializes in amphibians.

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How To Feed A Stubborn Newt That Refuses To Eat?

Feeding a stubborn newt can be challenging, but there are several strategies you can employ to encourage them to eat. Here are some steps and tips to consider if your newt is reluctant to feed:

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Check the Environment:

  • Water Quality: For aquatic and semi-aquatic newts, ensure the water is clean and free of contaminants. Regularly check the pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels.
  • Temperature: Ensure the temperature is within the appropriate range for your newt’s species. Too cold or too warm temperatures can affect their appetite.
  • Hideouts: Providing hiding spots can make your newt feel more secure, which can positively impact its willingness to eat.

Offer a Variety of Foods:

Sometimes, newts can be picky eaters. Offering a variety of prey items can help identify their preference.

  • You can try different types of worms, small insects, and other suitable foods.

Use Live Foods:

  • Movement can stimulate a newt’s feeding response. If you’ve been offering frozen or pelleted foods, try switching to live prey.

Hand Feeding:

  • Using soft-tipped tweezers, you can try to offer food directly to the newt. Be gentle and patient, ensuring you don’t stress the animal.

Reduce Stress:

  • Ensure the newt’s enclosure is in a quiet location away from high traffic areas.
  • Limit handling, especially around feeding times.

Soak the Newt:

  • For terrestrial newts, a shallow soak in lukewarm dechlorinated water can sometimes stimulate their appetite.

Food Scenting:

  • You can try “scenting” one type of food with another. For example, rub a worm with the juice from a bloodworm to make it more appealing.

Check for Health Issues:

  • A persistent lack of appetite can indicate a health problem. Look for signs of illness, such as lethargy, skin issues, or abnormal behavior.
  • If you suspect a health issue, consult with a veterinarian who specializes in amphibians.

Appetite Stimulants:

  • In some cases, a veterinarian might recommend appetite stimulants to encourage feeding. This should be a last resort and only used under veterinary guidance.

Fasting Period:

  • If the newt is otherwise healthy, it might be okay to let it fast for a short period. Some newts can go without food for a while. After a brief fasting period, they might be more inclined to eat.

Regular Feeding Schedule:

Try to feed your newt at the same times each day. Consistency can help establish a routine.

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How Frequently A Newt Needs Food?

The feeding frequency for a newt depends on its age, species, and overall health. Here’s a general time chart for feeding frequency based on the life stage of the newt:

Feeding Frequency Chart for Newts:

Life StageFeeding FrequencyNotes
LarvaeDailyLarval newts, or “efts,” are in a growth phase and require frequent feeding.
Juvenile NewtsDaily or every other dayAs they grow, their metabolism is still high, so they need regular feeding.
Adult NewtsEvery 2-3 days or even less frequentlyAdult newts have a slower metabolism. Some species might only need feeding 2-3 times a week.
Breeding SeasonIncrease feeding frequency (daily or more)If you’re breeding newts, they might require more energy and thus more frequent feedings.
Winter/BrumationReduce frequency or stop feedingSome newts go through a dormant phase in colder months. Monitor and reduce feeding accordingly.

Before following this chart, be aware of these:

Different species of newts might have slightly different feeding requirements. It’s essential to research the specific needs of the species you have.

  • The amount of food given at each feeding is also crucial. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and other health issues, even if the feeding frequency is appropriate
  • Always observe your newt’s behavior and body condition. If it consistently leaves food uneaten, you might be offering too much or too frequently. Conversely, if it seems constantly hungry or loses weight, you might need to feed more or more often.

Can You Give Newts Any Supplements?

Yes, you can and should give newts supplements to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients for optimal health, especially if their primary diet consists of a limited variety of foods.

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Here are some commonly used supplements for newts:

  1. Calcium Powder: This is one of the most essential supplements for newts, especially for growing juveniles. Calcium is crucial for bone development and overall health. You can dust their food with calcium powder a few times a week. Some calcium supplements also contain vitamin D3, which aids in calcium absorption.
  2. Multivitamin Powder: A multivitamin supplement can be beneficial to ensure your newt gets a range of essential vitamins and minerals. However, it’s typically used less frequently than calcium—usually once a week or once every other week.
  3. Vitamin A: Some amphibians can benefit from occasional vitamin A supplementation, as a deficiency can lead to issues like eye problems or skin shedding difficulties. However, it’s essential to ensure you don’t overdose, as excessive vitamin A can be harmful.
  4. Gut Loading: While not a supplement in the traditional sense, gut loading is a method of enhancing the nutritional value of the prey items. Before feeding insects like crickets or mealworms to your newt, you can feed these insects a nutritious diet for 24-48 hours. This “loads” them with beneficial nutrients, which are then passed on to the newt when consumed.
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What Newts Do Not Eat?

While newts are carnivorous and consume a variety of small aquatic and terrestrial prey, there are certain things they typically do not eat or should not be given.

Here’s a list of what newts generally do not consume or should avoid:

  1. Plant Matter: Newts are not herbivores, so they don’t eat plants, fruits, or vegetables. While they might occasionally nibble on some aquatic plants in their environment, they don’t derive nutrition from them.
  2. Large Prey: Newts won’t typically go after prey that’s too large for them to handle. This includes larger insects, fish, or other creatures that are bigger than the newt’s head.
  3. Processed Human Foods: Foods like bread, meat, dairy, or any other processed foods meant for human consumption are not suitable for newts and should not be given to them.
  4. Foods with Additives: Any food that contains preservatives, colorings, or other chemical additives is not appropriate for newts.
  5. Saltwater Creatures: While there are some exceptions, most newts are freshwater creatures. Offering them saltwater prey, like certain types of shrimp or fish, can be harmful.
  6. Wild-Caught Insects with Pesticides: Insects caught from areas where pesticides or herbicides are used can be toxic to newts.
  7. Toxic Creatures: Some small creatures might be toxic when consumed. For example, fireflies (lightning bugs) can be toxic to many amphibians, including newts.
  8. Dried Foods: Unlike some reptiles or fish that might accept dried foods, newts typically prefer their food to be live or, at the very least, freshly thawed from frozen.
  9. Fatty Foods: Foods that are overly fatty are not suitable for newts. This includes certain types of worms or insects that might be too rich.
  10. Dairy and Meat Products: Newts cannot digest dairy products like milk or cheese, and they also shouldn’t be given processed meats.
  11. Grains and Cereals: Foods like rice, wheat, oats, or other grains are not part of a newt’s natural diet and should be avoided.

do newts eat ants?

Yes, newts do eat ants. In their natural habitat, newts consume a variety of small invertebrates, and ants are among the insects they might prey upon.

However, ants are not the primary food source for newts, and their consumption might vary based on the newt’s specific environment and availability of other prey items.

are newts omnivores?

No, newts are not omnivores; they are primarily carnivorous. They feed on a range of small invertebrates, including insects, worms, slugs, and aquatic creatures.

While they might occasionally nibble on aquatic plants, they don’t derive significant nutrition from them. Their diet mainly consists of animal matter, both in their terrestrial and aquatic stages.

Conclusion

I think the confusion of what do newts eat has gone clear. In this newt feeding guide, any newt owners will get clear information about what food to give or what not. if you do not provide a proper diet with the right environment then this delicate amphibian will not be with you for a long time.

Nowadays many newt owners are getting interested in nurturing live worms to provide instant nutrition. Try all the methods to keep the newt happy and healthy.

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of AcuarioPets.com. I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.

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