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Caring for Newts

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 21 Jul 2015 | comments*Discuss
Caring For Newts

Newts are a familiar animal to most of us, especially if we have a garden pond. There are three species to be found in the UK – the Smooth Newt (Triturus vulgaris), the larger Palmate Newt (Triturus helveticus) and, at around 6 inches (15cm) long, the largest of the lot, the endangered Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus). However, none of these are particularly suitable as pets and certainly shouldn’t be taken from the wild – and in any case, the Great Crested Newt is heavily protected by law.

There are other kinds of newts, however, that will do well in captivity, so a visit to a good supplier of exotic pets should enable aspiring newt-keepers to find something to suit.

Housing Newts

Most of the best kinds of newts to keep are either totally or largely aquatic throughout the year, so housing is usually a very simple job – requiring little more than a good, secure aquarium, with a small island for the kinds that like to make occasional forays onto the land.

The species suited to these sorts of conditions include Japanese Fire-Bellied Newts (Cynops pyrrhogaster), Italian Alpine Newts (Triturus alpestris apuanus) and, growing up to 1ft (30cm) in length the Sharp Ribbed Newt (Pleurodeles waltl) – the biggest of all European newts.

Almost all like relatively cool, clean, well oxygenated water – around 18-20 degrees C (65- 68F). Unusually for exotic pets, keeping them cool enough in Britain – at least during a good summer – may be the biggest challenge. While there are innumerable options for warming up tanks available, there are very few for cooling things down; if you’re planning on keeping newts, you’ll need to make sure you can ensure that the temperature doesn’t rise too high. Newt-keepers need to choose the site for their tanks carefully, and anywhere in direct sunlight is an obvious non-starter.

If your choice of pet means that the tank needs to contain a land area, then a beach of gravel with a top covering of sphagnum moss or bark chippings will probably work best – and it’s a good idea to provide some good hiding places too. Despite their apparently slow and ponderous nature, many kinds of newts are remarkable escape artists, so it’s important to make sure that the tank’s lid fits tightly.

Food And Feeding

Newts are carnivores and will happily consume a wide range of suitably sized prey. Depending on the size of your pets, anything from live fish-foods such as tubifex or blood-worms – obtainable from most aquarist shops – to a whole range of wild-caught animals such as earthworms or insect larvae will keep your newts well-fed.

It’s worth remembering that newts can be a little shy, and since most are largely nocturnal, it’s probably best to try to feed them at night and then leaving them alone to dine in peace.

Although newts are not animals to be handled – their skins are sensitive to the heat of human hands – they still make fascinating and unusual pets. Many of the species commonly sold have striking patterns and crests – especially in the breeding season – making them particularly interesting and attractive. A secretive group of animals, they dislike interference, but left to their own devices they can often thrive very successfully in captivity, making these delicate and undemanding creatures ideal exotic pets.

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Hi there. So I have a small fire belly newt. We had it in a 55 gallon tank with a few angel fish, a red tailed shark and a spotted puffer fish. We figured since the tank was such a large one he would be okay in there. And now he was been attacked with several bite marks on his tail and back two legs. I've removed him from the tank but I'm not sure if he should be completely submerged. He doesn't seem to want to be in the water at all.
Jewelly - 21-Jul-15 @ 5:38 PM
I love newts but I have a studio apartment.I am worried that it will upset my neigbours.
petkeeper - 9-Oct-14 @ 7:06 PM
I'm very sorry to hear about your injured newt. What I'd do is remove the fish and put him in a temporary tank. Then put the newt back in the tank and see what happens. If the newt remains un-injured or gets harmed again then you will know which animal did it. please read the rest for a good course of action for handling the problem animal. If it is the other newt: I'd reccomed permanently seperating him and moving him into a new tank with similar living conditions. If it is the fish: Put him in a fish tank (preferably alone since it appears he is territorial) and maybe find a more peaceful fish to tackle your snail problem. Best wishes, Exotic_pet_pal
Exotic_pet_pal - 2-May-13 @ 9:15 PM
Hi Please could you try and answer my question. I have four firebellies newts which I have had for a couple of years with no problems but then we started to get loads of snails in our tank and asked at our local fish store what we could do to get rid of them.We were told to put a clown fish in the tank and that it would eat the snails, so we did.We started to notice that the flesh of the newts was coming of them and bare skin was being exposed.We have an aggressive newt which can bite the others at times but he has never left any marks so we think it must be the fish.I have removed an injured newt from the tank to try and heal his wound but every time it starts to heal and replace back in with the others its not long till his wound is exposed again. It looks like the skin is being removed by layers and not by a bite mark but can not be sure.Do newts have teeth? which one out of the fish and newt do youthink is responsable. Many thanks
tracy - 5-Sep-11 @ 1:45 PM
i am going to get a great crested newt i saw it at petco so i bought all the stuff for it and then i will get it
jb_hater - 21-Jun-11 @ 12:02 AM
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