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  • Molly Weinfurter

Axolotl Food: What Do Axolotls Eat?

Updated: Jun 9

“What do axolotls eat?” is a common question people ask when they’re thinking about bringing home an axolotl. However, axolotl food is one of the reasons people often reconsider getting one of these amphibians. An axolotl’s diet isn’t suitable for people who are squeamish, so it’s something to think about when deciding if an axolotl is the right pet for you.


Whether you want an axolotl for yourself or just want to learn more about these unique salamanders, keep reading to find out what food axolotls need.


Axolotl hiding in bare bottom tank
Here's my axolotl, Wooper

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What Do Wild Axolotls Eat?

Axolotls will eat just about anything that will fit in their mouths. So, in the wild, they’re not picky. Wild axolotls typically eat a mixture of worms, insect larvae, crustaceans, mollusks, and small fish. Since axolotls are nocturnal, they usually search for food at night.


Sometimes, they will accidentally suck up items that aren’t edible, but luckily, according to WebMD, bits of gravel can help with their digestion.


What Do Pet Axolotls Eat?

Pet axolotls share a similar diet to wild axolotls, but not all of their normal delicacies are easily accessible to pet parents. Axolotls are carnivores, so they need a protein-rich diet even in captivity.

wild type axolotl hiding

Earthworms are the best food for pet axolotls, so they should make up at least part of their diet. Many pet supply stores carry types of earthworms, such as red wigglers, angleworms, and nightcrawlers. If nightcrawlers are all that’s available but they’re too big for your axolotl, you can chop them up into bite-sized pieces.


I usually feed my axolotl, Wooper, worms only because they're easy to find and serve. Plus, he loves them! I buy my worms from local pet supply stores, but I know some brands sell online too, such as Uncle Jim's.


Brine shrimp (Sea Monkeys) and daphnia (common water fleas) are other nutritious food sources you can give your axolotl. They're great food for young axolotls since they're smaller and easier to digest that worms. There are some cube forms of these foods available to make them easier to serve.


Bloodworms are a common food for young axolotls, but they don't provide as many nutrients as the food mentioned above. So, they can make a great snack, especially for young axolotls, but they shouldn't be the only food source your axolotl gets.


Some pet companies offer axolotl pellets as another protein-rich option. They’re good to have in case you run out of worms for a little while, but they should still be paired with earthworms if possible.


Does Axolotl Food Have to Include Worms?

Worms gross a lot of people out, and the idea of cutting up worms can make people sick. So, lots of people wonder if they can get away with not feeding axolotls worms at all. The simple answer is that you really shouldn’t.


Since worms are the best food source for axolotls, worms should always be part of your axolotl's diet if possible. You can mix it up by serving brine shrimp, daphnia, and pellets once it a while, but those items shouldn't replace worms completely. Bloodworms can be a great snack but should never be the only thing you serve your axolotl.


If you're able to give your axolotl worms, you should. So, if you don’t feel comfortable giving worms to a pet, then an axolotl isn’t the right pet for you.


axolotl in vibrant aquarium

How to Serve Food to Axolotls

Axolotls aren’t the brightest pets out there. You can’t just sprinkle some food in their tank and expect them to find it. Instead, you should use reptile tweezers to place the worm in front of them. I use stainless steel ones like these.


In most cases, handing the food directly to your axolotl with the tweezers is the best way to go. Sometimes they might not see food dropped right in front of them, so using tweezers can ensure they eat the food before it drifts away from them.


Since you have to directly give your axolotl their food, it’s easy to keep track of how much your axolotl is eating.


How Do Axolotls Eat?

When an axolotl opens their mouth, you may notice that they have no teeth. If they nibble on your finger, it won’t hurt at all. The only teeth they have are vestigial teeth way back in their mouths, which are barely visible.


However, axolotls don’t use those tiny teeth to chew their food. Instead, they suck up the food into their mouth and swallow it whole. While they can eat much larger worms than you’d expect, it’s best to make sure the worms are always a manageable size so your axolotl can swallow them with no issues.


How Often Do Axolotls Need to Eat?

Newly hatched axolotls need to eat small meals twice daily. Young axolotls need to eat once daily to help them grow properly. However, as adults, axolotls only need to eat two to three times per week (about every three days). 


Axolotls don’t fully mature until at least 18 months old. So, you’ll need to gradually reduce the frequency you feed them until then. Between six months and a year, you can start feeding them about every other day instead of daily. After that, you can transition them to eating about every three days.


baby axolotl close up
Here's my axolotl as a baby

Frequently Asked Questions


How Long Can Axolotls Go Without Food?

Healthy axolotls can go up to two weeks without food, but don’t make them wait that long if you don’t have to. They should be eating two to three times per week, but they may eat less in colder months. 


Can Axolotls Eat Fish Food?

While fish food is usually safe for axolotls, it’s not recommended. Fish food is designed specifically for certain fish species, not axolotls. If you want to give pellets to your axolotl, make sure they’re made specifically for axolotls.


How Much Does Axolotl Food Cost?

A container of worms from a pet supply store is typically less than $9. You can expect to spend about $50 for axolotl food annually.


What Human Food Can Axolotls Eat?

Axolotls shouldn’t eat any human food. While they may be able to eat some meats without harm, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so stick to worms and other axolotl-specific foods.


What Do Axolotls Eat in Minecraft?

In Minecraft, axolotls eat buckets of tropical fish. That diet isn’t accurate to what axolotls eat in real life.


axolotl peeking out

Axolotl Food Isn’t for the Faint of Heart

Anyone who gets an axolotl needs to be okay with serving them creepy crawlies as food. Axolotls primarily eat worms since they’re easy to find and nutritious. In some cases, you may even need to chop worms up to make sure they’re the right size for your axolotl.


If you don’t feel comfortable serving worms to your pet, you may want to look for a different animal species to adopt. Axolotls are cute and popular, but people must understand the care requirements involved before bringing them home.

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