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What Do Salamanders Eat [Salamander’s Diet Year-Round]

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Salamanders might look like small creatures with quick tongues, similar to fish, but they’re part of the frog family. 

These animals like to live in damp places, such as decaying trees or piles of wet leaves.

Now, what do salamanders like to eat? They’re interesting because they can eat both on land and in water.

They can adapt to the wetness around them, and it’s cool that they have a special tooth comb to break down things like wood. 

Salamanders are important for the environment, and without them, plants could be in trouble.

These creatures teach us that even though animals can be different, they can still do well in their own homes.

For those thinking about having a salamander as a pet, it’s important to know about their eating habits, where they live, and the challenges they might face. 

In this guide, we explore where they live, different kinds of salamanders, what they like to eat, how to take care of them, and things that could be a problem for them. 

Let’s start by checking out where salamanders like to live.

Habitat of Salamanders

1. Moist Environments

Salamanders need a lot of moisture because their skin is like a sponge, and they breathe through it. 

That’s why you’ll find them in places that are pretty humid, like wet forests, grassy fields with a bit of moisture, or near streams and ponds. 

The moisture isn’t just for them to breathe comfortably; it also helps keep their skin healthy.

2. Woodlands and Forests 

Many species of salamanders prefer wooded areas and forests,  It’s because these places offer a mix of good hiding spots, fallen leaves, and old logs. 

The fallen leaves and decaying wood are like a buffet for them, full of tasty treats like insects and worms

So, the forest floor is like their comfy home and a perfect place for finding food.

3. Aquatic Habitats 

Some salamander species are fully aquatic or spend part of their lives in water. 

These water homes can be ponds, lakes, or streams that flow gently. 

When they’re in the water, some salamanders lay their eggs there, and the babies grow up from larvae into full-grown salamanders before moving to live more on land. 

The water they live in must be clean and free from pollution because dirty water can be harmful to both adult salamanders and their growing babies.

4. Burrows and Underground Habitats 

Some types of salamanders, like mole salamanders, are good at making homes in burrows and underground shelters. 

These cozy spots give them a safe place to hide from predators and extreme weather. 

The kind of soil in these spots is really important because it decides whether there’s a good place for them to dig their burrows.

5. Altitudinal Variation 

They like to live at different heights. Some prefer lowland areas, while others are comfortable at higher elevations, even in mountains. 

The height they choose is often connected to the temperature and weather conditions of that place, affecting the kinds of plants and prey they can find in their homes.

6. Microhabitats 

Salamanders tend to hang out in small special spots within their bigger homes. 

These cozy nooks could be under rocks, in old decaying logs, or under a pile of leaves. 

These places are like their personal hideouts, keeping them safe from predators and giving them a good chance to find different kinds of food.

7. Seasonal Changes

These animals can change where they hang out depending on the season to find what they need. 

For instance, when it’s time to have babies, they might head to special ponds, and when it gets colder, they might look for cozy spots to hibernate.

Knowing these details about where salamanders live is crucial if you want to create a good home for them, whether you’re watching them in nature or taking care of them as pets. 

It’s all about making sure they have what they need to stay healthy and happy.

Now that we’ve seen where they live, let’s check out the various kinds of salamanders.

Types of Salamanders

salamander's diet
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1. Ground-dwelling salamanders

1.1 Eastern Red-backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus)

These small and sleek salamanders call the eastern parts of North America home. 

What makes them stand out is the noticeable red or orange stripe running down their backs. 

You can spot them thriving in woodlands, where they like to keep hidden beneath fallen leaves for added protection.

1.2 Slimy Salamander (Plethodon glutinous)

Living up to their name, slimy salamanders have a slimy coating on their skin. 

They come in various colors, often with a dark hue and subtle speckles. 

These creatures are night owls, preferring the cover of darkness. You’ll often find them in hardwood forests, seeking shelter under rocks, logs, and layers of fallen leaves.

1.3 Long-tailed Salamander (Eurycea longicauda)

With their notably long tails and slender bodies, long-tailed salamanders display a range of colors, frequently featuring a reddish-orange stripe along their backs. 

They do well in woodlands near streams or seepages and are often seen close to water, showcasing their ability to adapt to a semi-aquatic lifestyle.

2. Water-Loving Salamanders:

2.2 Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)

Originating from the heart of Mexico, axolotls stand out as a unique group within the salamander family. 

What makes them stand out is their choice to maintain the aquatic charm of their larval stage throughout their entire lives. 

With frilly external gills and a broad tail, they have become a sensation in the world of aquarium enthusiasts.

2.3 Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus)

Then there’s the Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus), affectionately known as waterdogs.

These salamanders are true enthusiasts of aquatic life, fully embracing a submerged existence in the lakes and rivers of North America. 

With their external gills and vibrant colors, they not only boast robust bodies but also add an exciting splash to aquatic ecosystems.

3.  Salamanders that Call Caves Home

3.3 Olm (Proteus anguinus)

Commonly known as the “human fish,” olms live in the underground waters of caves in the Balkan Peninsula. 

These creatures have special features like no color and no external eyes, helping them move around in complete darkness.

3.4 Texas Blind Salamander (Eurycea Rathbun)

Native to the San Marcos Pool in Texas, these sightless salamanders that live in caves have see-through skin and spend their entire lives in the water.

4. Salamanders in the Mountains

4.1 Alpine Salamander (Salamandra atra)

Living in the European Alps, these salamanders are well-suited to high-altitude life. 

They often have dark colors, which help them soak up sunlight in their chilly mountain homes.

4.2 Sierra Nevada Yellow-legged Frog (Rana Sierra)

Although not a salamander, it’s worth noting this frog species because it also resides in high-altitude habitats in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. 

They share their living space with alpine salamanders.

These are just a small group of the many kinds of salamanders. 

There are more than 600 types of salamanders all around the world, and they come in lots of different shapes, sizes, and colors.

With an understanding of the diverse types let’s get to the main question: What do salamanders eat & Drink all year round?

What do Salamanders Eat & Drink Throughout The Year 

Salamanders eat different things based on their type, size, and where they live. 

Their eating habits can also change with the seasons. 

Let’s take a look at what salamanders generally eat and how their diet might change in different seasons:

1. Spring

In spring, salamanders become more active as the temperatures rise. 

This is an important time for them to find food and regain energy after the winter. 

During spring, they eat a variety of things like insects, worms, snails, and spiders

If they start as tiny tadpoles in the water, they feast on tiny creatures like plankton and daphnia. 

As they grow, they start eating larger things like mosquito larvae and small worms. 

There’s plenty of food in spring, so land-dwelling salamanders munch on emerging insects like flies and beetles while water-loving ones enjoy treats like crustaceans, shrimp, and even small fish.

2. Summer 

Summer is when salamanders are at their busiest, with their energy levels reaching a peak as temperatures rise. 

Their diet reflects this surge in activity, relying on key insects like beetles, ants, and caterpillars

Some salamanders may also aim for larger prey, including small fish, tadpoles, and occasionally even small mammals

The abundance of food available in this season allows for a more varied diet. 

The warmer weather brings out a wider variety of insects and worms, making the menu even more diverse. 

In certain cases, larger salamanders might treat themselves to snacks like small amphibians, such as frogs.

3. Autumn

As autumn arrives, it gets colder, and food becomes scarce for salamanders. 

To cope, they search harder for insects, slugs, snails, and spiders, which are still around. 

They do this to get ready for either changing or sleeping through the winter. 

Earthworms are still easy to find and give them lots of good stuff before winter.

This time is important for salamanders to gather energy before winter comes. 

They hunt more, eating as many insects and worms as they can find. Some brave ones even dig through leaves to find hidden food.

4. Winter

Winter is a time when many salamanders slow down, and some decide to hibernate to save energy. 

In this season, their metabolism slows, causing them to eat less or even stop eating altogether. 

In places with milder winters, some salamanders remain active, looking for small invertebrates like worms and fish, if they can find any food. 

When winters are tough and dry, they often choose to hibernate, while in milder climates, they might continue hunting under leaves or logs.

What do Baby Salamanders Eat?

When baby salamanders, also called nymphs, hatch, they feast on tiny creatures like plankton, daphnia (water fleas), and Cyclops. 

Using their delicate feathery gills, they filter these tasty bites from the water.

As they grow, their appetite expands, and they graduate to heartier meals such as mosquito larvae, waterworms, small crustaceans, and brine shrimp. 

It’s essential to consider their size – they start small!

Once they shed their gills and develop lungs, young salamanders venture onto land, broadening their diet. 

They snack on small insects like grubs, fruit flies, earthworms (cut into manageable pieces), and even tiny spiders.

After a few months, as their appetites and mouths grow, they can tackle larger prey like crickets, worms, slugs, and snails

In some cases, certain species even display cannibalistic behavior, munching on smaller salamanders.

In a controlled setting, give your baby salamander a diverse diet that includes live options like brine shrimp, black worms, crickets, and appropriately-sized earthworms. 

Providing a mix of foods is crucial for the best nutrition, so don’t limit yourself to just one type. 

If you’re offering insects, make sure they are loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. Avoid giving large prey that could harm the salamander. 

Remember, these are general guidelines, and what exactly your baby salamander needs depends on its species and age. 

If you’re unsure, seek advice from a veterinarian or someone experienced in caring for salamanders.

For those considering salamanders as pets, it’s important to figure out which types are good for beginners. Let’s look into some suggestions.

Recommended Salamanders for Beginner Owners

Choosing a salamander as a pet can be a fun experience, but it’s important to understand what each type needs, especially if you’re new to caring for them.

1. Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra)

These salamanders have cool black and yellow patterns. 

They are strong and not too hard to take care of. 

They like living in a place that’s a bit wet and humid, and they eat small insects.

2. Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma spp.)

Tiger salamanders come in different colors and are sturdy pets. 

They can live in different homes, both on land and in the water. It’s easy to feed them because they eat insects.

3. Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)

Eastern newts are interesting to look at with their bright orange-red color when they are in the water. 

They can live in different homes and eat both water and land bugs.

4. Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)

Axolotls are not exactly like other salamanders because they stay in their baby for their whole lives. 

They can live in a fish tank if you take good care of them.

5. Slimy Salamander (Plethodon spp.)

Slimy salamanders like living in damp places. They are easy to take care of and eat small bugs. 

They are known for being shiny and sleek.

Before you get a salamander, make sure you know what the one you like needs. 

Think about where it should live, what it should eat, and how warm and wet it should be. 

Always get a salamander that was born in captivity from a good place. 

If you’re not sure, ask people who know a lot about salamanders, like experienced pet keepers or vets, for advice.

Feeding Your Pet Salamander [A Step-by-step Guide]

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Step 1: Understand Your Salamander’s Diet

Each type of salamander comes with its own set of food preferences. 

Aquatic salamanders, such as axolotls, require different meals compared to land-dwelling Tiger salamanders

Take time to research your specific salamander species to determine the right type and size of prey.

For baby salamanders, also known as nymphs, their tiny mouths call for minuscule prey like daphnia or brine shrimp.

As they mature, their appetite grows, and they graduate to larger insects and worms.

Step 2: Get the Meal Ready

Salamanders often enjoy the excitement of chasing live prey, like crickets, worms, and bloodworms

However, some may also be open to commercially prepared freeze-dried or pelleted food. It’s a bit of trial and error, so see what your pet salamander likes best.

Step 3: Boosting Insect Nutrition

When you feed your salamander live insects, it’s crucial to enhance their nutrition through a process called gut-loading. 

This means giving the insects nutritious foods before giving them to your salamander. It’s like giving your pet an extra nutritional punch with every bite.

Step 4: How Often to Feed

Salamanders don’t all eat on the same schedule. Some might want a meal every day, while others are content with a feeding every few days. 

Watch how your pet acts and tweak the feeding routine accordingly. 

It’s important not to overfeed, as it could cause health problems, so finding the right balance is key.

Step 5: Keeping Your Salamander Hydrated

Make sure your salamander always has access to clean, dechlorinated water. 

Some kinds of salamanders can even absorb water through their skin, so it’s helpful to keep their environment a bit humid.

Step 6: Keep an Eye on Things

Keep a regular check on your salamander’s weight, behavior, and overall health. 

If you notice changes in its growth, activity levels, or appetite, be ready to tweak its diet and feeding routine accordingly.

Step 7: Seek Professional Advice

If your salamander shows any odd behavior, appetite changes, or health worries, reach out to a veterinarian who knows about exotic pets. 

Regular check-ups can catch potential problems early on.

By following these steps and tuning into your salamander’s unique needs, you’re on the right track to offering a nutritious and well-balanced diet for your captivating amphibian friend.

Lastly, as we finish talking about what salamanders eat, let’s talk about the animals that might harm these interesting creatures.

Predators of Salamanders

Salamanders, known for their secretive and elusive behavior, face a variety of predators in their natural habitats. 

Let’s explore some common threats that these amphibians encounter:

1. Birds of Prey: Owls and hawks, known for their sharp eyesight and powerful talons, pose a threat to both aquatic and land-dwelling salamanders. 

They can snatch them from the water’s surface or pluck them from the forest floor.

2. Snakes: From garter snakes to copperheads, many snake species find salamanders to be a delectable treat. 

Their sharp sense of smell and stealthy movements make them effective predators.

3. Mammals: Small to medium-sized mammals like raccoons, skunks, and rodents may focus on salamanders, especially if they inhabit the same areas.

4. Fish: In aquatic settings, salamander larvae and eggs face the risk of being preyed upon by various fish species, some of which are known for consuming amphibian eggs and larvae.

5. Invertebrates: Bigger invertebrates such as spiders and centipedes may pose a danger to smaller salamanders, particularly in areas away from water.

6. Amphibians: Among amphibians, it’s not unusual for larger members, even those of the same species, to prey on smaller individuals, especially during the early larval stage.

7. Humans: While not natural predators, human actions can indirectly affect salamander populations by causing habitat destruction, pollution, and the introduction of non-native species.

Wrapping Up

Salamanders are fascinating creatures that make great pets. If you’re considering getting a salamander of your own, it is essential to understand what they eat and what they should not eat. 

By providing them with various food items, you can ensure that your pet salamander stays healthy and lives a long life. Thanks for reading!


What foods should salamanders avoid?

Salamanders should steer clear of certain foods that may be harmful to them.
Avoid offering them insects caught from areas treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals.
Additionally, refrain from feeding them large prey items that could pose a choking hazard or difficulty in digestion.

Why are mealworms beneficial for salamanders?

Mealworms are beneficial for salamanders as they are a nutritious and easily digestible source of food.
They provide essential nutrients, including protein, vitamins, and minerals, contributing to the overall health and well-being of salamanders.
The small size of mealworms makes them suitable for various salamander species, including those with smaller mouths or juveniles.
However, it’s crucial to ensure a balanced diet by offering a variety of prey items to meet all their nutritional needs.

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