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Suitable food items for sals that are difficult to tong feed

This is a discussion on Suitable food items for sals that are difficult to tong feed within the Newt and Salamander Help forums, part of the Beginner Newt, Salamander, Axolotl & Help Topics category; Hello, I'm new here. I have a few questions about feeding. I have a bunch of baby salamanders, which so ...

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Old 25th October 2017   #1 (permalink)
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Default Suitable food items for sals that are difficult to tong feed

Hello, I'm new here. I have a few questions about feeding.
I have a bunch of baby salamanders, which so far have been raised on chopped earthworms and fruit flies. Some of them take really well to the earthworms and those have been growing a lot recently, but others just don't seem very interested in being tong fed and prefer to hunt their own food. The latter haven't really been growing anymore lately, I think because fruit flies have become too small of a prey to satisfy their nutritional needs. I would like to switch them over to larger prey items. The things I have most commonly available here are dubia roaches (which I breed for my geckos) and crickets (Acheta domestica). The silly little things however don't seem at all interested in baby dubias. I am very concerned about feeding crickets, because I've heard many horror stories about salamanders being bitten or even killed by crickets. All of this also applies to my adult marbled salamanders, every time I have to feed them I have to basically tear down their enclosure because they burrow into the substrate, so I think it would be a lot easier to just release a few in their tank every other feeding, but that approach really worries me
For those of you that do feed crickets to your caudates, how do you go about it? Do you just set a few free in the enclosure and hope for the best? Do you have any other feeding suggestions?
Sorry for the long post!



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Old 26th October 2017   #2 (permalink)
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Talking Re: Suitable food items for sals that are difficult to tong feed

Hi!

I have a Blue-Spotted Salamander, so our set ups are pretty identical I would think. My Blue-Spotted is well developed so I think I can help you out a bit with this one. First off, I don't personally feed my girl crickets. However, if you do go that route, I suggest not putting too many in there or too large of them. I would also dust them. If there are too many in there at one time, your friend won't eat them quick enough and that is when your salamander begins to be bitten. I would test it with one cricket and see if it disappears. I feed my salamander Isopods, springtails, and earthworms. All of these things I have sustaining in my enclosure as well as snails and millipedes. I think a balanced diet is vital to a healthy critter! My Blue-Spotted also likes to bury themselves and comes out seldom. This makes a direct feeding very intrusive and difficult if I did that. My salamander would much rather hunt and can be checked on by keeping track of your invertebrate populations in the enclosure. I honestly prefer this. This way I know that my Blue-Spotted is staying in shape and getting their exercise! Hope this helps you out a bit.



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Old 27th October 2017   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Suitable food items for sals that are difficult to tong feed

I would take the ones that seem reluctant to tong-feed and put them into a plastic container and drop some appropriately sized earthworms or cricket with them. My Ambystoma opacum would never feed from my hand, only if I put a nightcrawler with it under some sort of shelter, like a piece pf bark, he would never fail to eat it.



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Old 27th October 2017   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Suitable food items for sals that are difficult to tong feed

I, too, have heard the horror stories of crickets chewing on reptiles and amphibians. However, in my 50 or so years of keeping them, I've never actually had it happen. I think that the keys are not to over feed, and to make sure that there is plenty of space and hideouts available so that predator and prey are not forced into constant contact.
I feed small pinhead and quarter inch crickets to my blue spotted salamanders, and to my marbled newts. I feed at night, just before or after lights out. The newts come out for hunting pretty quickly; the blue spots remain hidden, for the most part. It's kind of a hands off approach- I seldom even try to watch them eat, because I think that inhibits their behavior, especially with the blue spots. But the crickets keep disappearing, and the salamanders remain plump and growing, which is evidence that things are working out.
I also try to keep isopods and earthworms available for them.



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Old 30th October 2017   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Suitable food items for sals that are difficult to tong feed

Thank you for your replies!
I forgot to mention that I do have thriving populations of isopods, springtails and earthworms in all my tanks, but they obviously aren't enough to sustain the growth of baby salamanders. I think they're too lazy to dig for worms because when I had to tear down enclosures in the past I always found pretty much the same amount I put in initially.
Since I wrote the original post I have tried the separate enclosure feeding method, and while it did work it is pretty labour intensive (catching tiny salamanders burrowed in a relatively large enclosure is not what I would consider fun) and I think way too stressful to subject them to it several times per week, no?
I think in the next few days, since I will be home, I will try to release a few tiny crickets in their regular enclosure and keep an eye on them.



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Old 30th October 2017   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Suitable food items for sals that are difficult to tong feed

Yes, digging them up and feeding them in a separate enclosure is stressful to them.
If the earthworms and isopods aren't too big, the salamanders are probably eating them. They won't dig for the worms, but they should be finding the worms that are under surface cover.
You might also try chopping earthworms, and leaving them at the surface for the salamanders to find. The worm pieces will move for quite a while, and are less likely to bury themselves. Do this at night, when the salamanders are active.



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