Picture of axolotis - what do they eat?

What Do Axolotls Eat? The Answer May Surprise You

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The axolotl is an amphibian otherwise known scientifically as the Ambystoma mexicanum from the Urodela. As paedomorphic salamanders, they can transform sexually mature without losing their gills as frogs do. This species is related to the tiger salamander, which both share the trait of reaching adulthood by undergoing metamorphosis. 

What do axolotls eat in the wild? How do they hunt for their food in the wild? Let’s discuss these parameters to learn more about this astounding endangered species. 

What To Feed an Axolotl

Axolotls are carnivores, which means they require a meat-based diet. However, they don’t have sharp teeth, so they typically swallow their food whole. You can give them various foods, including:

  • Frozen and live worms
  • Feeder fish
  • Live Daphnia
  • Live brine shrimp
  • Salmon pellets

Worms

Worms are easy to feed on an axolotl. More conveniently, worms deliver almost all the nutrition an axolotl needs to thrive. Nightcrawlers are the longest worm option that axolotls can consume. If you have a pet axolotl, you must cut up the nightcrawler before feeding it to them for easier consumption and digestion.

Black worms are recommended for young axolotl because of their size, with the same nutritive benefits as standard earthworms. In addition, blood worms are also viable as the occasional treat because they do not have as many nutritive benefits as the other feeding options.

Feeder Fish

Axolotl’s main choice of fish is guppies because they have less chance of carrying diseases that could harm them. If they consume highly disease-ridden fish species such as ghost shrimp, it can hurt their immune system because their outer shell is not hard enough for normal consumption.

If your axolotl is larger than average, you can purchase red wigglers without worrying about cutting them up before feeding time. However, they usually emit an undesirable substance that some axolotls do not prefer. 

What Do Axolotls Drink?

If you have a pet axolotl, it’s important to provide them with hard water rather than distilled, as they need its minerals to stay in good health.

How Axolotls Hunt in the Wild

Axolotls navigate the wild with their sense of smell. Once they have located their desired prey, they snap at it with an open mouth and slowly slurp it into its mouth. Their diet predominantly consists of worms, but they will also eat a variety of invertebrates, crustaceans, and more, including:

  • Insect larvae
  • Molluscs, such as snails
  • Tadpoles
  • Smaller fish
  • Other salamanders (even cannibalism that typically occurs if no other food is available)

What Eats Axolotls?

Large birds usually eat axolotls such as herons or even storks. Bigger fish such as tilapia or carp will come after axolotls as a meal. However, pollution of their waters poses a more significant threat than these predators, which is concerning, as they are critically endangered already. 

Tips from Our Vets

Though it may seem weird to try to identify different animals’ feces, there are many cases where you may need to do exactly that.

Many home and property owners come across animal feces and are concerned about what animals may be lurking. Being able to identify the feces that wildlife and rodents leave behind will not only let you know what animals are in the area, but also can give clues as to how many of them are present.

At first, it can be distressing to find foreign looking animal feces in your home or on your property. Fears of aggressive or rabid animals, as well as the diseases they may carry are often the first worries.

Protecting your family and pets is of utmost importance. However, taking the time to correctly identify the feces is essential in assessing the threat or risk from the animals.

This research will also enable a home or property owner to devise an effective strategy for keeping any pest animals out of their homes, barns, or other areas where they are not welcome.

Scat Identification Techniques

  1. The first thing to do if you come across scat, or feces from animals, is to observe the location of the droppings. Notice where the feces are in relation to buildings, other structures, other animals, water, roads, and vegetation. Different animals will place their droppings in particular locations and this can be the first clue to identifying them.
  2. Next, observe the placement of the scat. Are the feces hidden or buried? Are they randomly dropped all over an area with seemingly little regard for placement, or are they tucked away in corners or neat piles? These factors can greatly narrow down the list of possible culprits.
  3. Note the size of the scat. If you are investigating feces found in your home or on your property, it is a good idea to obtain a ruler or tape measure that you can use to measure. Some animals’ feces may look identical to others from the same family, and size may be the only distinguishing feature. *REMEMEBR: animal feces can carry both diseases and parasites so they should never be handled without gloves.*
  4. What is the shape of the found fecal matter? Some shape characteristics to look for include if the feces are round, tapered at the ends, completely tubular, round pellets, twisted, or moist mounds.
  5. An additional clue to the species of animal leaving the scat is what is included in the feces. Berries, hair, seeds, and plant parts should all be looked for in the droppings. This information can be used to identify the animal that left it.
  6. Lastly, look around the area where you first identified the scat. In cases of feces from animals that have similar appearing feces to another species, it can be helpful to search for nearby footprints or tracks left by the animals. This can be used to confirm species.

Conclusion

If you want to own a pet axolotl, check your state laws to see if it is allowed. Some states have outlawed owning an axolotl for fear of breeding with other salamanders local to the area if they break out of their cage at your home.

If you’re looking for more information on animal diets, we created a guide to human foods dogs can and can’t eat, and you can also check out our resources on the diets of various animals below:

Pet News Daily Staff
Pet News Daily writers are experts in pet care, health and behavior. We are members of Society for Professional Journalists and practice ethical journalism.