Salamander Diet And Feeding Guide For Beginners

Like all other animals, salamanders have certain sets of diets they go by. Following the right guidelines gives your pet salamander a healthy and long life.

Salamanders need to be fed nutrient-rich, protein-based food at 2-3 intervals during the week. There are distinctions in food items and diets depending on the type and species of salamander. The time of feeding also matters.

Feeding salamanders properly in captivity is a must. So, how do you feed salamanders, and what do you feed them? Here is a beginner’s guide to feeding salamanders.

Salamander’s Food In The Wild

Salamander food can be divided into two types.

  • Food found on land
  • Food found in water

These food types differ due to the natural habitats of salamanders and hunting patterns. Even in captivity, they will only eat food that is suitable for their natural eating patterns.

Terrestrial salamanders choose food found on land, and aquatic salamanders choose food found in water.

Terrestrial salamanders are more suitable to hunt food found on land with their sticky long tongue which captures the prey. The most common food for terrestrial salamanders is, however,

  • Earth worms
  • Flies
  • Beetles
  • Snails
  • Cockroaches
  • Meal worms
  • Slugs

Aquatic salamanders hunt using their teeth. There is plenty of food available for them in their aquatic habitats. The most common food for aquatic salamanders is, however,

  • Snails
  • Shrimp
  • Minnows
  • Night crawlers
  • Blood worms
  • Tubiflex worms
  • Mosquito larvae

These foods are what salamanders would eat in nature. However, in captivity, you have to be careful choosing which ones to feed them. Because clearly, some items, like the mosquito larva, for example, would cause more hassle than they are worth.

Feeding Routine For Salamander

Salamanders need to be fed 2-3 times a week.

Salamanders are nocturnal creatures, and that is why they must be fed at night.

Making a proper routine requires choosing two or three days of the week to feed your salamanders and being very consistent about it. Here is an example.

Days of the week Whether to feed or not
SundayFeed them at night
MondayNo food
TuesdayNo food
WednesdayFeed them at night
ThursdayNo food
FridayFeed them at night
SaturdayNo food

Only choosing the days isn’t enough. It is entirely up to you to choose which foods to feed on which days. Circulating between different sorts of food will ensure that your salamander is getting enough nutrients to grow healthy.

Baby salamanders do need to eat daily, though. For the first month, you will need to feed baby salamanders a little food daily, and later in the second month, you can feed them with a gap of a day in between. This would go on for up to two months when the salamander reaches maturity and is ready to consume more quantities of food at larger intervals.

Diet Chart For Baby Salamanders

Due to the small size of baby salamanders, the food chosen for them also has to be small and easily digestible. A list of the most common foods for baby salamanders are,

  • Springtails
  • Flies that eat fruit
  • White worms
  • Dwarf white isopods 
  • Baby brine shrimp
  • Daphnia
  • Finely chopped worms

Springtails and fruit flies are a good choice to feed baby salamanders. Springtails work as a cleanup crew in the enclosure, and due to their small size, they make perfect snacks for baby salamanders.

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Fruit flies can be bought commercially. You should always buy flightless fruit flies, as these would be easier for your baby salamander to hunt.

White worms are also a great choice to feed your baby salamanders. White worms are very slow-moving creatures that make them easy prey for your salamander. They are also nutrient-rich. Although, you need to make sure to keep your white worms in colder temperatures, which might be a drawback in a warmer environment.

Dwarf white isopods grow to small sizes, and these do not move much. These isopods are also very easy to maintain. Although these can be hard to find due to not being readily available in stores,

Daphnia and brine shrimp are easily available. One brine shrimp a day is enough to fill a baby salamander’s belly, while it might take multiple daphnias to do so.

Earthworms can be chopped up into small pieces to be fed to baby salamanders. However, it can be pretty hard to get them to start eating food that is not alive.

How To Get Your Baby Salamander To Start Eating?

Larval stage salamanders will only eat live food. They do not go after any other food until their front and back legs start to appear.

When the metamorphosis is complete and the larvae become baby salamanders, they have to adapt to a new environment as well as a new way of hunting. As they are adapting to a new environment, they might not start to eat immediately. If not taken care of, this can go out of hand real quick.

Baby salamanders have to be enticed to try new foods. It can be tricky to get them to start eating regularly. When they morph, their size is mostly one to two inches. A salamander of this size can be given springtails, daphnias, or different types of worms of smaller sizes.

Though providing the food alone might not get your salamander to start eating, You can follow a process to get the habit of eating going. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

  • Choosing a good starter food: White worms are a very good choice for getting them used to worm-like food sources. It is important because when you are choosing a starting food, it is better if it follows through in the long run.
  • Piquing the salamander’s interest: Just providing the worm in front of the salamander is not enough, as they might just ignore it. You can use a leaf to put the white worm on in front of the salamander. As it makes it harder for the white worm to escape, it also makes sure that the prey is in clear view of the salamander.
  • Repetition and patience: You have to accept that the salamander might not eat the worm on the first try. You can try it again and again with intervals in between. You have to continue it until the salamander eats the worm out of its own hunger and interest.
  • Get the routine flowing: When the baby salamander finally starts eating, you have to get it accustomed to a routine as soon as possible. In captivity, you have to make sure that they do not eat at the wrong times.

This process can be followed with any type of food of your choice for your salamander. You only need to make sure of the amount and that the prey does not escape.

When Can You Start Feeding Adult Food To Your Salamander?

Within two months, baby salamanders reach maturity. After this time, they can eat almost all foods as adult salamanders.

It is important to choose foods that are complimentary to the size of your salamander. Trying to feed them large-sized foods can prove to be difficult as they have not yet reached their full size.

Feeding Adult Salamanders

Salamanders eat different foods based on their species. This is truer as they grow older. Tiger salamanders love crickets and insects, while the fire-bellied newt chooses a blood worm any time.

Breeders can provide more specific information as to what species would eat what food, so always consult one when required.

But most salamanders go through a general diet. Common food items for adult salamanders are:

Terrestrial Salamander FoodAquatic Salamander Food
Meal WormsBloodworms
Thread WormsMinnow
CricketsNight Crawler
Fruit FliesSmall Fishes
Small beetlesBrine Shrimp
Wild Small InsectsFreeze Dried Tubifex Worm
Wax WormsMysis
DaphniaGuppies

When choosing to feed your salamander, make sure to give aquatic salamanders aquatic food and terrestrial salamanders terrestrial food.

While choosing worms and insects, make sure that they are not taken from places where insecticides have been applied. Because insecticides can be very harmful to salamanders.

While feeding larger insects or worms, you have to chop them into small pieces, which makes it easier for salamanders to eat them. Salamanders can’t eat large chunks of food at a time because they have small mouths.

Make sure to switch the food items once in a while. In fact, it is better to rely on a three-to-four item-based diet from the very beginning.

How Much Food Should I Feed My Salamander?

For adult aquatic salamanders, give them 2 brine shrimp with one blood worm and for adult terrestrial salamanders, one meal worm with two crickets is enough for one salamander in one serving.

That is a general idea of how much one adult salamander might eat. Based on the size, the quantity will increase or decrease. So it is best to consider the species, age, and size of your salamander to decide what amount of food to feed it in one serving.

Can Salamanders Eat Vegetables?

Salamanders do not eat vegetables. All the food that salamanders eat is meat-based.

If you put vegetables or fruits in the enclosure for your salamander to eat, they will simply ignore them. And the vegetables or fruit would then get rotten and create waste in the enclosure. So don’t attempt to feed vegetables to salamanders.

However, there is an exception. Some aquatic salamanders are omnivores, which is the opposite of their counterpart carnivores. These salamanders would sometimes eat algae from the water body. Even so, these salamanders will not consume vegetables.

Using Supplements For Salamanders

The only supplement salamanders need is calcium powder.

Some salamander foods, such as fruit flies, lack the initial amount of nutrients required by salamanders. That is why they are required to be dusted with calcium powder to make up for it.

Calcium powder should also be regulated with care. While choosing a calcium powder, you should avoid the ones with vitamin D-3, as this vitamin can be toxic to salamanders. It is also wise not to choose any with multivitamins.

It Is Important To Gut Load The Food

Gut loading means feeding your insects or other food items enough so that they are filled with nutritional value.

Feeding salamanders nutrient-rich foods is necessary to ensure the salamanders grow properly. Gut-loaded insects provide better quality food.

In order to gut load insects, you simply have to make sure that there is slightly more than enough food in the enclosure for insects and keep them there for three days or a week, depending on the insect, before feeding them to the salamander.

Make sure that the excess food in the insect enclosure doesn’t rot and create a new problem.

Salamanders Will Eat Each Other, So Here Is What To Do.

Salamanders are cannibalistic and often eat other salamanders. In nature and in captivity, the larger salamanders prey on the smaller salamanders.

To prevent this from happening, you have to make sure that the salamanders kept in the same enclosure are roughly the same size. A salamander will rarely attack another salamander of the same size.

Things to Avoid In Salamander Diets

Never give fireflies, centipedes, millipedes, or ticks to salamanders. These contain toxins that are detrimental to salamanders.

Don’t touch salamanders for an excessive amount of time, trying to feed them. Oils created by human hands can make salamanders sick. Besides, it can also be unhealthy for your own body.

Feeding chicken, large fish or red meat can harm the intestine of salamanders. So, keep these off the menu.

How Do You know If Your Salamander Is Hungry?

You only have to feed them every 2 to 3 days. You don’t have to worry about the time in between at all. Because they take that time to process the food they have already eaten.

What Happens If You Overfeed Your Salamander?

In captivity, due to feeding too many fat-rich meals, salamanders can become obese. Overfeeding is a health hazard to your salamander.

Also, when your salamander does not eat all the food, the excess food stays in the enclosure. With time, this excess food gets rotten and exposes your pet to various harmful bacteria.

Overfeeding can also get salamanders sick, as they would be unable to process too much food at a time.

To avoid overfeeding, you have to follow the two-day routine strictly and know how much to feed each day.

Under no circumstances should you starve your salamander to reduce its weight. It can prove to be dangerous in the long run.

Do Salamanders Need To Drink Water?

Salamanders absorb water through their skin. They do not need to drink water through their mouths.

Aquatic salamanders directly absorb water from their surroundings. Which means your salamander is not just living in the water of the tank but also absorbing it.

While absorbing water, salamander skin does not filtrate the water, which means anything that is in the water will get absorbed into the body of the salamander. If the water in the salamander’s habitat is polluted, then that pollution will get absorbed into the salamander itself, causing various health hazards.

Terrestrial salamanders also do the same. But they absorb water from the wet soil and the moisture of the air.

Salamander skin always remains wet because it absorbs water through it. It is crucial for the habitat to have sufficient water and moisture.

How Long Can Salamanders Survive Without Food?

Salamanders can go up to 7-10 days without eating any food. The young ones have to eat more frequently. Because their small bodies do not hold enough food to run that long.

However, they would not survive that long if there was no water or moisture in the environment. No matter what type of species of salamander you have, they need water to survive. Especially because they do not consume water the same way as other animals do.

If the shortage of water continues for a long time, it can put the salamander at a great risk.

Final Words

Taking care of salamanders as pets is relatively easier than with other pets. All you have to do is follow the food routine and check it from time to time.

Having knowledge about them helps you understand the animals better and lets you take care of them better. With this knowledge at your disposal now, you can feed your salamander better and keep it healthier.

Muntaseer Rahman

I have been keeping shrimps as a pet for many years now. I’ve fallen in love with these cute pets from the moment I saw them. That’s why I am writing articles to share my shrimp keeping knowledge with you.

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