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How to Care for Newts (A Complete Guide for Beginners)

How to Care for Newts (A Complete Guide for Beginners)

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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.

Did you know that newts can live as long as 20 years in captivity? That is if they’re well taken care of.

These amphibians are fascinating creatures that have been tamed and domesticated over the years. They’re docile, cute, and adapt well to new environments.

They’re great as pets, especially when owners can provide them with the right amount of love and care.

This article will help you to do just that! We’ll go over the basics of how to care for newts and everything else you need to know.

Are Newts Easy or Hard to Care For?

Generally, newts are easy to care for as long as you know what you’re doing.

Unlike popular domesticated pets like dogs and cats, newts are amphibians. This means they have a wildly different set of living requirements.

Two primary things owners need to keep an eye on are their habitat and their food. We’ll go over the details later on in the article.

The good thing about newts is that they adapt well to captivity and can become tame over the years. Surprisingly, they can even be tame enough to accept food from their owner’s hands.

Species Overview: Newts

To understand how to raise newts, we have to get to know them a bit better first.

Newts belong to the family Salamandridae, under order Caudata. They’re small, semi-aquatic amphibians with over 80 recorded species.

The most common species kept as pets are Axolotl, Japanese Fire-Bellied, Eastern, and Marbled, Tiger, and Paddle-Tailed Newts.

They come in many different colors and patterns depending on the species. They usually have rough and grainy—almost warty—skin textures.

Their overall length also depends on the species. Most can only grow up to 5 inches long, but Tiger species can grow well over 10 inches.

Behavior and Personality

When newts are first introduced to their enclosures, they may hide away or bury themselves in their substrates. However, they adapt quickly and grow more tame when they realize their food will come from you.

Sometimes owners will also notice that their newts follow them inside their enclosure when hungry.

A newt’s activity level depends on the species. Some are active during the day, some during the night. Their activities involve either resting on land or hunting for food in the water.

They’re naturally shy but curious. Since they have good eyesight, they like to explore and move around their enclosures.

They’re not territorial and can share their enclosures with small fish and other newts, provided the food is enough for everybody. If not, newts may fight one another for “survival.”

In addition to fights over food, male newts can compete over females during mating cycles, especially if there’s only one female. Some species, like the California newts, are also particularly aggressive during breeding seasons.

Salamanders vs. Newts

Some may assume that newts are exactly the same as salamanders, but there are some key differences.

Salamander is an umbrella term for amphibians that develop tails as they reach adulthood. That said, you can safely assume that all newts are salamanders, but not all salamanders are newts!

Habitat Choices for Newts

Unlike our cats and dogs, newts prefer enclosed habitats. They’re significantly smaller and have more fragile skin.

In this section, we’re diving deep into the specifics of what makes the perfect enclosure for newts.

What Is a Newt’s Normal Habitat?

A bewt’s normal habitat depends on what stage it’s in during its life cycle.

Newt larvae are mostly aquatic. They develop in bodies of freshwater and spend most of their time maturing there.

During their juvenile phase, they become terrestrial or land-dwelling. They stay in coniferous forests and among leaf litter.

As they develop into adults, they become semi-aquatic. Since most newts offered in the pet trade are in their adult stage, we want to emulate what their habitat is at that stage.

What Are the Requirements For a Newt’s Home?

First and foremost, they’re semi-aquatic during their adult stage. That means, even if the common habitat choice for them is a glass aquarium, it doesn’t mean you should fill it up with just water.

Water Quality and Resting Places

Give them a space to swim in, but also provide a place to rest out of the water, like a cork bark or turtle platform. You can also add aquatic plants to help preserve the water quality.

The water in your newt’s enclosure should also be free of chlorine and other derivatives, like chloramine.

Owners should regularly check the pH, keeping in mind that pH 7.0 is ideal. In addition, owners should monitor ammonia levels inside the tank, as excessive amounts are lethal to newts.


For substrates, you can opt for a bare-bottom enclosure. Substrates aren’t necessary for most newt species, but they can make the habitat look better.

If you plan on using substrates, the ideal is round gravel. We recommend going with large-sized gravel so they don’t become a choking hazard for your newt.


Fortunately, most newts live well with normal household temperatures of 68°F to 76°F. However, it’s better to keep it in the cooler end, around 60°F to 70°F.

Other Considerations

Lastly, ensure that their enclosure, whether aquarium or terrarium, has a secure cover. Newts aren’t known to be escape artists, but they can easily climb glass.

Nutrition and Health for Newts

Having a great habitat will do wonders for your newt’s health, but you also need to consider their feeding and nutrition.

What Do Newts Eat?

In the wild, newts eat a variety of worms and insects. Their diet in captivity remains relatively the same.

Live food options include guppies, small crickets, and a wide variety of worms. Chopped earthworms and bloodworms are the most common types.

When you don’t want to handle live food, there are also commercially available amphibian food products like ReptoMin floating sticks. You can also opt for small freeze-dried seafood, like shrimp.

Most adult newt species don’t really have a preference for live or frozen food as long as their meal is small enough to eat. However, younger newts may need live food for stimulation.

For a balanced diet, rotate between all of these food options. Adult newts are usually fed around 2 to 3 times per week, but some species may require less feeding.

When feeding a newt with crickets or other live insects, you can sprinkle pharmaceutical-grade calcium supplements to aid in calcium absorption.

All newt owners, regardless of the species they own, should avoid overfeeding. Some species, like Tiger newts, are more susceptible to obesity, so owners should also steer clear of high-fat diets.

Do Newts Get Diseases?

To fight off predators in the wild, newts naturally release toxins, particularly tetrodotoxin (TTX), from their skin glands. Some species release more of them than others.

Toxins from Pacific newts like the Taricha granulosa or the rough-skinned newt are potent enough to be fatal for an adult human.

However, these toxins can only affect humans when they find a way to enter the body. The most common route is through ingestion, but it can also enter through wounds.

That said, don’t handle them if you have open skin injuries, like cuts. Generally, you should make it a habit to wash your hands before and after handling any of your pets.

Breeding and Nursery Care for Newts

Let’s say you have a pair of newts and you want to know if it’s possible to breed them. The short answer is yes, but fair warning, it’s not that simple!

How Does Breeding Newts Work?

To successfully breed newts, you need to mimic their natural breeding cycle. This cycle occurs around March through June.

Breeding pairs usually prefer to mate in deep breeding ponds. There’s no guarantee that a pair will opt to mate every cycle.

However, if they do end up mating and the female newt is impregnated, she can lay over 300 eggs in one cycle. Egg-laying takes a while since newts don’t lay eggs in masses.

Instead, they lay eggs separately in the leaves of aquatic plants. This keeps the eggs safe from any predators.

Do Newts Care For Their Young?

Similar to many other amphibians, like frogs and salamander species, newts generally don’t provide any parental care for their young. Once the eggs are laid, breeding pairs abandon them.

However, some amphibian species in the tropics appear to care for their young for a short period. Although, parental care can look widely different from species to species.

How Do Newts Care For Their Young?

In general, a newt’s involvement in its offspring’s life, unfortunately, ends the moment the female lays her eggs. However, in some species, parental care involves guarding the eggs until they hatch.

This ensures that their eggs can hatch safely, free from predators and parasites. Unfortunately, there are limited studies that have observed these behaviors, especially in newts.

Where to Get Newts

So, where do you get newts if you’re interested in keeping them as a pet?

Fortunately, since salamanders and other amphibians have grown in popularity over the years, there are safe places to get them.

Remember to only purchase from reputable breeders and pet traders. In addition, ensure you do your research when choosing a species.

Some species in Europe are strictly protected because of their declining populations. For example, because the Triturus carnifex and Calotriton asper species belong to this list, it might not be legal to keep them as pets.

Always do your research and double-check if your newt is the species your breeder says they are. Look out for species-specific patterns and colorations.

Some newts can be found in the wild, specifically in some ponds and bogs. However, you shouldn’t attempt to handle wild newts since some species have potent toxins.

Many wild species suffer from habitat loss and pollution, so it’s best to leave them unthreatened when you see one in the wild. You can still take pictures and admire their wonderful colors and patterns.

Final Thoughts

To sum up our care guide for newts, here are some key things you have to remember: they’re semi-aquatic, so give their enclosures enough water and land, rotate their food options, and handle them only when necessary.

It’s time-consuming at first; to learn, do research, set up enclosures, and invest in food, but it’s also rewarding to have your little friend follow you around inside their enclosures.

Whether our pets are furry, scaly, or sometimes warty like newts, the best way to care for them is to know how to do it properly. Before deciding on keeping a newt, you have to be ready to take on the commitment.

Remember, responsible ownership doesn’t just benefit your pets but you and the people around you too.

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