What do salamanders eat?
Salamanders are generally small amphibians with moist skin.
These characteristics have led some researchers to label them as ‘living fossils’.
While many salamander species have similar diets, there is a large diversity in what the individual species eat.
For example, a researcher observed a population of yellow-spotted salamanders and discovered that they ate slugs, snails, and earthworms.
While another observed a population of marbled salamanders and noted that they ate more varied prey such as springtails, mites, and pillbugs.
The researchers also observed what types of food were readily available to the salamanders in the area.
While many salamanders are generalists, they can also be specialists.
Special Diets for Different Salamanders
For example, some species of salamander eat ants exclusively.
These ants form mutualistic relationships with their host plant species by protecting them from herbivores.
In return, the ants get food and shelter from the plant.
Salamanders gain an abundant source of food from eating ants.
Additionally, they don’t have to compete with other predators for it.
Some salamander species are even able to exploit other animals’ prey.
Studies have shown that spotted salamanders will eat tadpoles, frogs, and fish when given the chance.
This suggests that it is advantageous for predators to evolve to take advantage of food sources not readily available to them.
This is so they can better survive harsh conditions or times where food is scarce.
What Endangers a Salamander?
Salamanders are prey to many predators, including other amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds.
There are also parasites that affect the salamander’s food sources by infecting them or killing them off entirely.
These parasites can cause population crashes in salamander species if their food source disappears.
The diversity of salamander diets can be advantageous under changing circumstances, but their specificity can also cause problems.
If the salamanders’ food source isn’t in high enough numbers, then there won’t be enough for them to eat.
It’s important to consider what might happen if a large number of salamander species’ food sources are killed off at once by parasites or predators.
Understanding their dietary habits can tell us how these roles will be affected if their primary prey dies off or becomes scarce.
There are a number of reasons why the variety in salamander diets is so great, including what species live together in an area, climate, prey availability, and interactions with other predator species.
In addition to varying widely from one species to another, salamanders can also vary in what they eat from season to season, depending on the availability of food.