It’s understandable that it is quite difficult to spot differences among amphibians, especially those in the same family, like members of the Salamandridae family, composed of more than 60 species. Newts belong to this family. They are tiny amphibians that somehow look like both a lizard and a frog, and possess numerous fascinating features. Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, newts can be found in North America, Asia, Europe, and North Africa. Land dwellers outnumber those who spend their entire lives in or near bodies of water which include swamps, grasslands, and croplands. But as they say, looks can be deceiving. Newts can look cute and harmless, but they can be pretty dangerous, and not to mention, carnivorous too. So, what do newts eat?
What Do Newts Eat?
Newts are canivores that eat insects, tadpoles, worms, shrimp, and slugs. Their diet differs whether they’re hunting on land or in the water.
When newts are on land, they often feed from insects, worms, slugs, and other invertebrates out of water. Newts are exclusively carnivorous, so they specifically hunt for animal protein.
The foods that Newts eat on land include:
Newts are hard to find during the day because they are nocturnal. On land, they prefer to hide under stones, logs, rocks, compost heaps and other dark and damp areas.
When it comes to living in ponds, they often hide in underwater vegetation and weeds. On that note, newts eat the following animals in water:
- Aquatic insects
- Water snails
- Small crustaceans
- Insect larvae
- Sea louse
- Mayfly nymphs
- Seed shrimps
- Bees wasps
- Water invertebrates
As adolescents, newt larvae can feed on small shrimp and insect larvae that they come across while swimming.
How Do Newts Hunt For Food in the Wild?
When hunting for prey, newts use two methods: active and passive. The term “active predation” refers to a hunt in which a predator actively pursues its prey. Passive predation is a classic ambush strategy that involves waiting passively for an opportunity to strike. It is possible to argue that the newts’ best strategy in hunting is to eat anything that moves. As long as they can swallow it, the adults will eat anything they can get their teeth into. Large earthworms, many times the size of newts, have been observed grappling and struggling inside their mouths until the newt realizes the prey is larger than they thought, and ‘eject’ it form their mouths.
What Do Newts Eat as Pets?
News eat a diet that commonly includes crickets, mealworms, insects, and nightcrawlers as pets. The specific food a pet newt eats can depend on what species they are. It is your responsibility as a newt owner to feed your pet a diet that is as close to its natural diet as possible.
Several newt species eat a variety of foods and can adapt their diets to meet the needs of their environment. They’ll eat everything from worms to insects. Tadpoles, frog eggs, and even small frogs will also be eaten by many species. Fish eggs, young amphibians, and small fishes are just a few of the other delicacies enjoyed by some species of newts.
Often, aquatic pet newts eat a diet that includes:
- Mosquito larvae
- Brine shrimp
- Frozen fish
- Fish food
Newts prefer eating live prey, but they can be trained to eat dead ones. Mealworms are also a good option, but they don’t provide as much nutrition.
Terrestrial newts, on the other hand, eat:
- White worms
Insects that have recently been fed a diet rich in calcium is also a good choice for your Newt’s diet.
While we all know that reptile pellets and sticks, frozen fish, and even fish food can make an aquatic newt very happy, keeping their diet as wild as possible may prove to be extremely challenging. If you have bigger adult aquatic newts in captivity, live feeder fish could be used to feed them and satisfy their diet as well.
How Often Do Newts Eat?
Newts, in contrast to humans, do not require as frequent meals as we do. Adult newts don’t even require food on a daily basis. Instead of feeding your Newt every day, it’s best to do so twice a week. But in order to ensure that your Newt grows to its full potential while still a juvenile, be sure to feed it on a daily basis. Make sure as well that you have fresh, clean, and chlorine-free water available with you at all times.
What Supplements Do Newts Need in their Diet?
Many people believe that because Newts don’t have access to supplements in the wild, they don’t need to supplement their pets’ diets. A calcium and multivitamin supplement should be given to your pet Newt at least once or twice a week to ensure a long and healthy life.
Amphibians and reptiles require calcium in their diet. Sadly, it can be difficult for these animals to obtain the calcium they need. Newt health is bolstered by ingesting calcium and multivitamin supplements.
Are Newts Dangerous to Humans?
Newts change their skin color to hide from predators. Those that are toxic are marked with bright colors to alert predators that they’re not a good choice of food. Toxic mucus is secreted by these newts, which was proven in a study published in Toxicon in 1966, where Tetrodotoxin (tarichatoxin) was found in at least 10 species. So it’s safe to say that Newts can look innocent and harmless, but they can be quite lethal in some cases as well! However, when put in the right habitat and utter care, they are not necessarily dangerous to humans.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com
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