Food Items for Captive Caudates

by Heather Björnebo

 

Night Crawlers; Lobe Worms
Rating Excellent
Advantages Nutritious
Commonly available
For both aquatic and terrestrial caudates
Readily accepted
Disadvantages Worms must be cut for smaller caudates
Varieties Canadian nightcrawlers
Earthworms
Availability Bait shops
Discount stores and gas stations
Online bait/feeder dealers
Dug from yards and gardens
nightcrawlers

 

 

Live Black Worms (Lumbriculus variegatus)
Rating Excellent
Advantages Nutritious
Readily accepted by smaller, aquatic caudates
Will not transform into insects
Disadvantages Not for larger or terrestrial caudates
Varieties N.A.
Availability
Some pet stores (USA and Australia)
Not commonly available in Europe
In bulk by mail/Internet
blackworms




Live Blood Worms (Chironomus spp.)
Rating Excellent
Advantages Nutritious
Readily accepted by aquatic caudates
Disadvantages Will become midge flies at maturity
Not for terrestrial caudates
Some are grown in polluted waters
Some humans are allergic
Varieties N.A.
Availability Some pet stores
Rare in the U.S., common in Europe & Asia
bloodworms




Live Tubifex Worms
Rating Excellent
Advantages Nutritious
Readily accepted by smaller, aquatic caudates
Will not transform into insects
Disadvantages Not for larger or terrestrial caudates
Usually collected from polluted waters
Varieties N.A.
Availability Some pet stores
Rare in the U.S., common in Europe & Asia
tubifex




Daphnia and Scuds
Rating Excellent
Advantages Nutritious
Readily accepted by smaller, aquatic caudates
Rich source of carotene, for development of bright color
Great for larvae
Disadvantages Not for larger or terrestrial caudates
Must be cultured for steady supply
Not widely available for purchase
Varieties Moina
Daphnia pulex
Daphnia magna
Gammarus
Hyalella azteca
Availability Some pet stores
By mail/Internet
Wild-caught
www.caudata.org/daphnia/




White Worms
Rating Good
Advantages Nutritious
Readily accepted by smaller and aquatic caudates
Disadvantages Not for larger caudates
Must be home cultured
Poor source of carotene for color development
Varieties White worms (Enchytraeus spp.)
Grindle worms
Availability Other hobbyists
Live food dealers
Home culture
whiteworms




Wax Worms
Rating Good
Advantages Fairly nutritious
Accepted by most terrestrial & some aquatic caudates
Disadvantages Not for smaller caudates
Very high in calories and fats
Not good as a staple diet
Varieties Waxworms
Lesser waxworms
Availability Some pet stores
Bulk by mail/Internet
waxworms




Live Grubs
Rating Excellent
Advantages Nutritious
Available in a variety of sizes
Readily accepted by many caudates
Disadvantages Not widely available
Uneaten grubs may hatch into insects
Varieties Fly larvae (spikes or maggots)
Tebo/Trevo worms
Phoenix worms
Availability Some pet stores
Internet Bait/Feeder Dealers
spikes/grubs




Live Wild "Bugs"
Rating Excellent to Fair
Advantages Nutritious
Come in a variety of sizes
Many kinds are avidly accepted
Disadvantages Sometimes difficult to catch
Risk of introducing pests
Risk of introducing diseases or chemicals
Some varieties may not be eaten
Uneaten bugs may escape into the house
Varieties Earthworms
Slugs
Woodlice (aka "pill bugs")
Termites
Spiders
Aphids
Fruit flies
House flies
Mosquito wigglers, daphnia, & other aquatic microorganisms
Availability Wild caught
wild bugs




Live Crickets
Rating Good
Advantages Commonly available
Disadvantages Fast moving
Not for most aquatic caudates
Caudate may be bitten by leftover crickets
Poor calciumphosphorus ratio
Need to be dusted with calcium/vitamin powder for complete nutrition
Varieties Various sizes from pin-head to adult
Availability Pet stores
Bulk by mail/Internet
cricket




Fruit Flies
Rating Good
Advantages Easy to grow at home
Ideal for small terrestrial caudates
Disadvantages Not for aquatic caudates or larger species
Need to be dusted with calcium/vitamin powder for complete nutrition
Varieties Drosophila melanogaster (small)
Drosophila hydei (large)
Wingless and flightless types available
Availability Pet stores
Mail/Internet
Home grown
fruit flies




Frozen Worms
Rating Good
Advantages Fairly nutritious
Commonly available
Easy to store and use
Accepted by most aquatic caudates
Disadvantages Not for larger or terrestrial caudates
No movement to stimulate feeding
Some types messy/slimy bad for water quality
Varieties Bloodworms (Recommended, especially Hikari brand)
Tubifex
Blackworms
Glass worms
Availability Most pet stores
frozen bloodworms




Red Wigglers
Rating Good
Advantages Moderately available
Good Nutritionally
Can be cultured at home to obtain small sizes
Disadvantages When cut, often refused due to foul-smelling secretions
Varieties N.A.
Availability Bait shops
Some pet stores
Online Bait/Feeder Dealers
red wigglers




Live Brine Shrimp (Artemia)
Rating Good
Advantages Fairly nutritious
Hatcheries and eggs commonly available
Adults available at some pet stores
Disadvantages Not for medium, large or terrestrial caudates
Contain salt
Eggs must be hatched
Varieties Newly-hatched nauplii (for caudate larvae)
Adult brine shrimp (for adult caudates)
Availability Some pet stores
Online pet supply dealers
brine shrimp




Live Meal Worms
Rating Fair
Advantages Commonly available
Movement may elicit feeding response
Disadvantages May bite captives
Hard exoskeleton is poorly digested
High in fat
Varieties Mini, regular, super, giant
Availability Pet Stores
Online Bait/Feeder Dealers
mealworms




Canned and Wet-Pack Foods
Rating Fair
Advantages Commonly available
Easy to store and use
Disadvantages Usually rejected by caudates
Varieties Can-o-crickets, snails, catepillars, etc.
Zooplankton (daphnia)
Bloodworms in gel
Availability Pet Stores
canned herp food




Freeze Dried Worms
Rating Fair
Advantages Commonly available
Disadvantages Not accepted by many caudates
Not for larger or terrestrial caudates
Less nutritious than frozen or live
Varieties Tubifex Cubes
Blood worms
Availability Pet stores
freeze dried foods




Frozen Brine Shrimp
Rating Fair
Advantages Commonly available
Easily stored in freezer
Disadvantages Not accepted by some caudates
Not for larger or terrestrial caudates
Not as nutritious as live
Contains salt
Varieties N.A.
Availability Pet stores
frozen brine shrimp




Meat and Organ Meat
Rating Fair
Advantages Commonly available
Easily stored in freezer
Disadvantages Not accepted by some caudates
Not a "natural" food for caudates
Mammalian meats are energy-dense, may cause obesity
Most varieties lack calcium and vitamins
Liver has excessive vitamin A, may cause hypervitaminosis
Varieties Beef heart
Raw liver
Raw steak, chicken, etc.
Availability Pet stores
Meat markets and groceries
 




Raw Fish and Shrimp
Rating Good to Fair
Advantages Commonly available
Easily stored in freezer
High in protein, low in fat
Disadvantages Not accepted by some caudates
Not a "natural" food for some caudates
Some varieties lack calcium and vitamins
Some varieties have a high salt content
Varieties Raw fish
Raw shrimp
Raw shellfish
Availability Pet stores
Fish markets and groceries
 




Feeder Fish
Rating Poor
Advantages Commonly available
Disadvantages Some varieties deficient in thiamine
Some have poor fatty acid profile (e.g., goldfish)
May lead to obesity
Possible disease vector
Not for smaller or terrestrial caudates
Too fast-moving for many caudates to catch
Varieties Goldfish
Tuffies
Rosies
Guppies
Availability Pet stores
feeder fish




Mice and Other Rodents
Rating Poor
Advantages Commonly available
Nutritionally complete
Disadvantages Not a "natural" food for most caudates
Mammalian meats are energy-dense, may cause obesity
Only for very large caudates
Live rodents may injure caudate
Varieties Frozen/Live
Pinkies, Fuzzies, Adults
Availability Pet stores
mouse




Freeze Dried Brine Shrimp and Krill
Rating Poor
Advantages Commonly available
Disadvantages High salt content
Not as nutritious as live/frozen
Not for larger or terrestrial caudates
Varieties N.A.
Availability Pet stores
freeze dried brine shrimp




Freeze Dried Crickets and Meal Worms
Rating Poor
Advantages Commonly available
Disadvantages Practically nutritionally void
Messy
Not accepted by most caudates
Not for smaller or terrestrial caudates
Varieties N.A.
Availability Pet stores
dried crickets




Pellets
Rating Good to Poor
Advantages Easy to store and use
High-quality carnivore pellets are nutritionally complete
Commonly used for axolotls
Disadvantages Some formulations not correct for caudates
Refused by most newts
Inappropriate for terrestrial caudates
Leftover pellets may cloud water
Contain corn, wheat and other unnatural food sources
Lose nutritional value if stored too long
Varieties Rangen Soft Moist Salmon Pellets (recommended)
ReptoMin
JurassiDiet
HBH Newt & Salamander Bites
Availability Pet stores
Mail/Internet
newt pellets




Fish Flakes
Rating Poor
Advantages Easy to store and use
Universally available
Disadvantages Formulation not correct for caudates
Refused by most caudates
Inappropriate for terrestrial caudates
Flakes not consumed cloud water
Contain corn and other unnatural food sources
Varieties Many
Availability Pet stores
fish food




Other Amphibians
Rating Inappropriate
Advantages Highly nutritious
Disadvantages Possible disease vector
May cause injury to captives
May be toxic
Varieties Tadpoles & larvae
Small frogs & toads
Small newts & salamanders
Availability Pet stores
Wild caught
 



Additional information on amphibian foods and nutrition

CC article Nutritional Values of Amphibian Foods
CC article Microfoods for Caudate Larvae
CC article Worms: The Ideal Food for Caudates
Caudata.org article Daphnia An Aquarist's Guide

Nutritional Advisory Group Fact Sheet Nutritional Aspects of Insects as Food pdf icon 0.9 Mb (highly recommended!)
AGSC Axolotl Colony Food for Axolotls
IACUC Learning Module Xenopus Nutrition



© 2002 Heather Björnebo. Revised by Jennifer Macke & Ed Kowalski, April 2006.

 

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