It really depends on the salamanders. If you do use crickets make sure not to give them too many at once. They can overwhelm the salamanders and harm them. I personally use them for my tiger salamanders. I have tried a variety of food options for them, but by far their favorite is crickets. I think other food types just aren't active enough for them. I tried earthworms, waxworms, superworms, and crickets. They ignored most of the worms, except they had some interest in waxworms. When I out crickets in though, they get very excited. If you use crickets, I would recommend dusting them and gut loading them to maximize nutrition. I feed them once or twice a week enough crickets to make sure they eat their fill but have some left over for later, but not too much where they start bothering the salamanders.
I use crickets to feed all of my terrestrial newts and salamanders. There was an interesting study that discovered that salamandra who were fed fast moving prey (crickets, spiders etc) as juveniles had a preference for fast moving prey as adults. Similarly, juveniles that were fed slow moving prey (worms, slugs, grubs etc) showed a preference for slow moving prey as adults. Prey preference can apparently become imprinted which may explain a lack of interest in crickets for yours.
For those using crickets a good rule is to feed your crickets well before you add them to the enclosure and provide something edible like a piece of lettuce for them to feed on whilst in there. When you buy a pack of crickets from a pet shop remember that they probably haven't had any food or water for many days. A hungry cricket will chew on anything, including salamanders.
All of the WC fire salamanders I have in my collection show a preference for crickets above all else. In fact, when I stopped adding crickets a few of them lost weight. They do eat earthworms and such, but the crickets seem to be the magic formula to get them really excited about eating. What I do is remove most of the legs from the cricket. This makes them slower and much less mobile, makes it easier for the salamanders to capture them.
I've never had an issue with cricket, but they don't last long enough to be a problem. Our fire sals don't really like to be hand fed, they prefer hunting (unlike the tigers!) but we only add a few at a time. The salamanders hunt them down in a matter of hours.
Otterwoman I'd always put excess crickets in with my salamanders and over time they'd get eaten and I'd simp,y replace them. I always ensured I out a small jam jar lid in there too containing fish food flake, chopped carrot etc to feed these crickets.
However, I'm going to have to rethink this because inevitably some crickets survive and grow.
Today I witnessed a cricket carry off and begin to eat a large wax moth grub.
There are different kinds of crickets. Do you know which species you were feeding to your newts? Field crickets (Gryllus campestris) secrete a light odor, have a hard "shell", make a lot of noise and have strong jaws. I've never had any problems with them though. Still most stories I've heard from other keepers involve incidents with this species. I love their sound though. Makes me think I'm on a holiday.
A lot of keepers of reptiles and amphibians prefer house crickets (Acheta domestica) and especially the Jamaican field cricket (Gryllus assimilis). They are told to be less "agressive".
Hi Niels, I know the filed crickets we used to catch them when we were children on holiday at my sister's small holding. This cricket was actually the house cricket as standard bought as third instars from the supplier. Some develop into preadults before being predated by the salamanders. I was actually shocked to see this behaviour especially since I specifically feed my crickets to head off any funny business.
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