Skip to Content

The Fascinating Characteristics of Newts You Should Know About

The Fascinating Characteristics of Newts You Should Know About

Share this post:

The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Newts are amphibians that look similar to lizards. The small amphibians belong to the salamander group.

They’re cute and fun to observe. So, you’re probably wondering, are newts good pets? And what are their characteristics?

Well, newts make good pets, as they require low maintenance. However, they don’t enjoy interacting with humans.

Although you can hold your newts and observe them, they aren’t cuddly pets.

Do you want to find out more about these interesting amphibians? Keep on reading to know all about the characteristics of newts.

Characteristics of Newts

Newts belong to the salamander subfamily Pleurodelinae. They’re semiaquatic, which means they can alternate between terrestrial and aquatic habitats.

There are over 100 species of newts. You can typically find them in Europe, Asia, North Africa, and North America.

Here are the main characteristics of newts:

1 – Behavior

Newts are active amphibians. They spend most of their time exploring and interacting with their tank mates. They also like to search for food and swim around the enclosure.

2 – Size and Appearance

Newts have well-developed limbs and tails. Each of their four short legs has four toes.

That makes them look similar to a cross between lizards and frogs.

Typically, their length doesn’t exceed 8 inches. The majority of newts are less than 4 inches in total length.

Are you looking for a big newt? The great crested newt is a species that grows up to 7 inches long.

Generally, newts have thick, rough skin, which displays many color patterns. For example, mature red-spotted newts have yellowish-green skin with red spots.

On the other hand, the Palmate newts have brown skin with dark spots, and their bellies are yellow or orange.

On average, most newts weigh less than an ounce.

3 – Defense Mechanism

In nature, some newts protect themselves from predators by secreting toxins on their skin. For example, the Pacific Northwest newt produces enough tetrodotoxin that can kill a human.

Don’t fret! The toxin won’t be harmful to you unless you ingest it. That means you can safely hold most salamanders without having to worry about anything.

In fact, newts can live in the same pond as other amphibians without harming them.

Besides the toxin, newts can regenerate their limbs, eyes, hearts, intestines, and jaws throughout their lifetime.

4 – Diet

Newts are carnivores, and they mainly eat various types of insects. They also love to eat slugs, beetles, and worms.

They can eat tadpoles, aquatic insects, larvae, mollusks, and shrimp in water. In nature, they come out at night to scavenge for food.

Baby newts find small shrimp and insect larvae perfect to eat.

5 – Living Requirements

Newts are mainly aquatic, so you’ll need a 10-gallon tank to keep them happy. Overall, the larger the tank, the happier your newts will be.

Generally, newts do well when they have good tankmates. Getting two newts together is a good idea.

More importantly, you need to create a good ratio of water to land in the tank. A 70:30 water-to-land ratio is suitable for newts.

Make sure to create an island-like area towards the edge of the tank. It’s important to make the slope gradual so that the newts can easily climb it.

Ideally, your amphibian friends should be able to move around the water while being completely submerged. So, the water should be around 10 inches deep.

You should never add chlorinated water to the newts’ tank, as it can harm them.

6 – Reproduction and Eggs

When the breeding season starts in spring, the male newt typically swims in front of the female to attract her. The male newt might also vibrate its tail to gain her attention.

When they mate, the eggs are fertilized inside the female. You’d be surprised to know that the female can lay up to 400 eggs at a time.

The great crested newt, for example, can lay around 200 to 300 eggs.

She usually puts them on plant leaves. Each egg is less than 0.1 inches in diameter.

After laying the eggs, the parents don’t look after the young. Unfortunately, only around half of them grow into tadpoles.

Are Newts Good Pets?

Many overlook newts as potential pets. However, they make great companions for anyone, especially kids.

Generally, newts are quiet and interesting to observe. On top of that, they require relatively low maintenance.

Further, newts come in a wide variety of patterns and colors. For the above reasons, newts make good pets.

Remember that the newts’ requirements depend mainly on the species.

Handling Newts

Due to the toxins they produce, you need to handle your newts properly. Typically, holding your newt won’t harm you, even if you have a wound on your hand.

However, you must wash your hands with soap before touching anything. The most important part is to rinse your hand thoroughly and make sure that there’s no soap residue on your hands.

You should never eat food or touch your face right after handling the newt.

Additionally, don’t grab the newt by its tail. Instead, lift it from underneath its belly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the lifespan of newts?

Most newts and salamander species live for around 10 years. With proper care, they can live for more than 40 years.

Are all salamanders newts?

Not all salamanders are newts. However, all newts are salamanders.

What are the main predators of newts?

The predators of the newts include birds, fish, snakes, foxes, and other large amphibians.

Final Thoughts

So, what are the main characteristics of newts?

Newts are active, as they spend most of their time exploring. They have thick, rough skin, which displays many patterns.

The little amphibians are carnivores. They mainly eat slugs, worms, shrimps, and larvae.

To keep your newts happy and healthy, you should keep them in a large tank with around 70% water and 30% gravel.

Overall, they make good pets, as they’re interesting to observe and require low maintenance. However, newts secrete toxins through their skin as a defense mechanism.

Therefore, you need to wash your hands thoroughly after holding them. Don’t worry, as the toxin is only harmful when ingested.

Share this post: