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Newts refuse to eat anything.

This is a discussion on Newts refuse to eat anything. within the Newt and Salamander Help forums, part of the Beginner Newt, Salamander, Axolotl & Help Topics category; Hi, I'm new here, and I just caught two California (I think?) newts from a local pond on Christmas. They ...

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Old 20th January 2016   #1 (permalink)
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Default Newts refuse to eat anything.

Hi, I'm new here, and I just caught two California (I think?) newts from a local pond on Christmas.

They both refused to eat for the first week, so I isolated them in a container filled with a box full of mealworms, a box full of nightcrawlers (some live, some chopped), and a ton of small, medium, and large crickets. I thought they were eating because they looked a bit fatter after a week. I moved them back into their tank, and they haven't been eating anything. I also just learned that newts can apparently look healthy after starving for weeks! I am extremely concerned that they have not been eating anything all along.

They're wild, so I don't think they'd respond well to nonliving food. I've tried freeze-dried bloodworms and daphnia, but they completely ignore it. Should I try frozen bloodworms?

Whenever I try to hold food in front of them, even while it's squirming, they lift their heads up as if they're about to eat it, and then they back away.

Attached is a picture of the female. From the pictures I've seen, their backbones shouldn't be showing through like that! But at the same time her belly looks plump.

Please help! What should I do?
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Old 20th January 2016   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newts refuse to eat anything.

You first need to find out which specie you have, either T. granulosa, T. torosa or T. sierrae, I'm no expert with Taricha so maybe someone else can chime in on that, or maybe look at what specie is in range of where you collected them.
You should try to get them as comfortable as possible, from that picture, the setup looks hardly adequate for any of the species, so revisions should be made accordingly, plants and hides are a great idea to help with this, other stuff depending on what specie of newt you have;I will link the care sheets for both species, and some other helpful articles.
I wouldn't bother with trying to feed freeze-dried and frozen foods to start, especially with nearly caught animals, mealworms are also generally frowned upon for being not good nutritionally, in addition to their hard exoskeletons. I would continue to try with chopped worm, waxworms are also a good food to help an animal gain some weight.

Caudata Culture Species Entry - Taricha granulosa
Caudata Culture Species Entry - Taricha torosa
Caudata Culture Articles - Food Items for Captive Caudates
Caudata Culture Articles - Worms



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Old 20th January 2016   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newts refuse to eat anything.

About the tank, I'm wondering if I should fill it almost entirely with water, and just make a floating island. When I found them, all the newts were in water, none on land. Do you think a mostly aquatic environment would help relieve stress for the newts?

Also, if this is relevant, I found the newts in a pond in the San Francisco Bay Area (more specifically, Alameda County). The pictures of T. granulosa, T. torosa, and T. sierrae all look pretty similar to me, so if anyone could help identify which species they are, that would be great. :)



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Old 21st January 2016   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newts refuse to eat anything.

According to where you found them, and looking at its head and eyes; I am pretty sure that is Taricha torosa. You should house them terrestrial with a water bowl that they can submerge in. Sometimes, newts do not eat because they are not housed properly. Hope this helps



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Old 21st January 2016   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newts refuse to eat anything.

According to location this should be Taricha torosa.
WC newts will be stubborn feeders for a while after you collect them, especially if not put in a ideal setup. Live/moving food items are a must. Try leaving small moving pieces of earthworms (about the width of their head ) out for them overnight. Odds are in the morning some of the pieces will be gone.
I do recommend filling the tank up for now, but do provide a good sized turtle dock or cork float for them, the females especially like to go on land for a period of time.
After a while they may start spending lots of time on the land area, at this time it would be a good idea to change their setup to a more terrestrial setup with a large water bowl, then decrease the water bowl size after a while.
However it is possible that they simply choose to stay aquatic, which is less likely but still a possibility. In this case of just leave the turtle dock or cork float in there and let them continue living aquatic.

Hope they start eating :)
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Old 22nd January 2016   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newts refuse to eat anything.

Thanks so much, everyone!

I changed the tank: lots of plants, a bit more water.
My dad hand fed the male newt chopped worms and he finally ate! Waiting to see if the female will eat, but I am so excited that we finally got at least one to eat.

If we continue to hand feed them at this point, will they eventually eat on their own as they grow more comfortable with their environment and food?



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Old 22nd January 2016   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newts refuse to eat anything.

You could try putting a feeding dish in there where you put their food. It works really well, because no people to stress them, and they eat anything in that one spot



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Old 22nd January 2016   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newts refuse to eat anything.

I have some sierrae that now feed from tongs but it took a long time. I cut up a nightcrawler into 3/4 inch pieces, and offer to them. WHen they wouldn't take it, I left it in a small shallow bowl (I use small plastic container lids, like from vitamins, etc). After a year or so mine ate from the tongs, but until then, I'd leave the worms in the bowl and they slowly gained weight, so I knew they were eating them.
WC newts are always thinner than captive kept ones, I think yours looks just fine.



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Old 22nd January 2016   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newts refuse to eat anything.

It is good to have your salamanders eat from tongs all the time, because then you know that they're eating, or who is and who is not eating. Of course when it's too late you'll find out who's not eating, they will lose weight. If they haven't lost much weight yet you can tempt them with waxworms and other delicacies.



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Old 27th January 2016   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newts refuse to eat anything.

I can't exactly pinpoint the factors that caused them to start eating. Maybe it was the tank change, greater patience, the breaking point of their hunger, the much smaller nightcrawler pieces, or any mixture of the above factors. But now my newts are accepting food more readily!

If anyone else is struggling with feeding newts, just be very, very patient.



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