Axolotls are very unique creatures and as a result, you might assume that they have a very complex diet. Axolotls are naturally carnivores and whether they are feeding in the wild or a pet owner is feeding them in captivity as a pet, the diet will revolve primarily around animal based protein sources.
As a carnivore, their digestive system is developed to break down and utilize meat however, you might be wondering whether this is the most nutritious diet for an axolotl and whether or not they can actually eat vegetables.
Axolotls are carnivores and rely primarily on a protein rich, meat based diet and this means that their digestive system is therefore optimized for meat consumption. If you try to feed your Axolotl vegetables they will not be able to get any nutritious benefit from them and you should therefore not feed your Axolotl vegetables.
Axolotls are a great beginner pet as they are very easy to care for and are relatively low maintenance. While you might assume that their diet is complex, you’ll find that they can eat a variety of foods within a specific category for optimal nutrition and health.
In this article, we’ll explain why Axolotls can, but shouldn’t, eat vegetables and why this will offer them little nutritional value as well as potentially even be harmful to them.
Can Axolotls Eat Vegetables
Firstly, as we pointed out above, an Axolotl is a carnivore and their primary food source from birth is protein based meat. This is typically live animals and insects when they are younger however and adult Axolotl can consume dead meat sources too.
As Axolotls have become increasingly popular pets, the recommended dietary requirements have become more uniform and below are some of the most typical foods that are recommended for pet Axolotls:
- Bloodworms (check out this feeding video for an Axolotl feeding on frozen bloodworms)
- Brine Shrimp
- Insects (crickets, mealworms) though this is occasional rather than a staple
As you can see, the diet recommendations are primarily protein based creatures, pellets might be the exception however these need to still be made up primarily of a high protein, animal based source instead of the primary ingredient being vegetable based.
Despite being a carnivore, an Axolotl can eat vegetables and we first need to make that point so that we don’t cause any controversy. The most common instance whereby an Axolotl will eat vegetables in the wild will be when they consume prey that feast on vegetables as a primary food source.
This means that the prey (insect or small animal) will have undigested vegetable matter still in their stomach which can include algae, dead grass, leaves and dirt.
In fact, some pet owners will breed their earthworms in dirt that is rich in compost, decayed fruit and veg in order to then use this as a way to feed the Axolotl vegetable in a process known as gut-loaded feeding.
This essentially means that the live animals that you feed to your Axolotl will already have undigested vegetable matter in their stomach and as a result, the Axolotl will also digest this when it eats the prey.
This occurs naturally in the wild and is the primary reason why an Axolotl can eat vegetables.
Why You Shouldn’t Feed Axolotls Vegetables
Just because an Axolotl can technically eat vegetables, it doesn’t mean that it should and in general, Axolotls will receive minimal (if any) nutritional value from consuming vegetables.
The video below shows Axolotls consuming vegetables with this tag “Axolotls loving their veggies” and while this might be the case, it’s certainly an isolated occurrence and shouldn’t be considered the norm.
An Axolotls digestive system has evolved to be carnivorous and what this means is that they have the capability to break down meat for their primary source of nutrition.
From birth, an Axolotl will develop it’s eating patterns (smelling and snapping at food) through live prey as they don’t yet have the instinct to consume dead or frozen food.
On top of developing the ability to eat as they do (food needs to be smaller than their mouth as they swallow food sources whole), an Axolotl simply doesn’t have the digestive ability to take any nutritional support from vegetables.
Therefore, owning an Axolotl is not like other pets whereby you will try to mix up their diet to give them different nutrients and minerals as trying to feed you Axolotls primarily on vegetables could mean they don’t receive the nutrients that they require and could actually become ill.
Axolotls are also quite sensitive and vegetables have the potential to carry toxins and parasites that could make the Axolotl ill as well.
While it might seem like vegetables are good for your Axolotl, they could actually provide more harm than they do nutritional value and for that reason, it’s best to not feed them any vegetables.
An Axolotls diet can be surprisingly simple and straightforward, the vast majority of their food source should come from protein rich meat and possibly some pellets (provided these are also made from protein rich ingredients).
A diet consisting of a variety of worms, insects and even small fish can be used and these are actually what will be most natural to an Axolotl.
You may have been wondering whether they can consume vegetables and whilst some Axolotls will eat vegetables, they offer very little nutritional value and a lot of Axolotls will simply ignore vegetables as a food source.
Therefore, you shouldn’t feed your Axolotls vegetables and it would be best to follow their natural carnivorous diet of protein rich meat from animals and insects.