Fire Bellied Newts
Fire Bellied Newts are amphibians classified as Pleurodelinae, a subfamily Salamandridae. Basically, this means newts are salamanders that live most of their life under water. These beautiful newts can be either black or dark brown with a blotchy orange or red underbelly, hence the name fire bellied newt.The fire bellied newt will start its life as an aquatic larva feeding off of small life forms and swimming amongst the subaqueous vegetation. Once the tadpole grows into an eft, or juvenile newt, it will leave its underwater home, living mostly terrestrially. When the fire bellied newt reaches adulthood it can either return to living permanently under water or semi-aquatically, living partially on land, depending on their surroundings. Fire bellied newts are carnivorous and will eat worms, small insects, brine shrimp or tadpoles. These amazing animals, like lizards, can rapidly regenerate lost limbs and even damaged organs such as the intestines or heart. The fire bellied newt can be separated into a few different groups.
Types Of Fire Bellied Newts
Originally from China, the most common of the fire bellied newts is Cynops Orientalis, more frequently referred to as the Chinese Fire Bellied Newt. An adult Chinese Fire bellied Newt can grow to be 2 to 4 inches in length from head to tail. When purchasing a fire bellied newt from a local pet store you are likely to end up with this particular pet, Chinese Fire Bellied Newts are more common than their counter parts. This brings us to the next type of fire bellied newt, Cynops Pyrrhogaster, or the Japanese Fire Bellied Newt. Aside from originating in Japan, this newt can be distinguished from its Chinese cousin by its rougher skin texture, rounded tail and larger size (3 to 5.5 inches). Japanese Fire Bellied Newts also tend to have a more protruding parotoid gland, a gland found on the back of the neck that seeps a milky substance when the newt feels threatened. The third type of fire belly newt is the Blue-tailed Fire Bellied Newt, Cynops Cyanurus, from southwestern China. You would assume from its name that this newt would have a blue tail. This isn't necessarily true, Blue-tailed Fire Bellied Newt will develop a blueish tint only during mating season. All species of newt are mildly poisonous but pose no real threat to humans. You should always keep the handling of these newts to a minimum and wash your hands after any contact.
Fire Bellied Newts As Pets
Fire Belly Newts make excellent pets, they are easily cared for and take up every little room. When purchasing a fire bellied newt be aware that although newts have an average lifespan of 30 years, many may die prematurely due to poor care. Make sure your fire bellied newt's home is prepared before its arrival. I recommend at least a 10 gallon take for up to 3 newts. The terrarium should be approximately 2/3 water and 1/3 land (pebbles, gravel and rocks). Make sure that the land slopes into the water so that it can be accessed easily. The water levels should be at least 4 to 6 inches deep, giving your new pet room to swim and aquatically. Fire bellied newts will do well at room temperature (65 - 80 degrees), although you may want to purchase an aquarium heater for the colder months. When creating your newts new environment, spring or tap water can be used but be sure to age the water for at least 24 hours before setting up a fish tank. Some newts may reject store bought pellets but will readily eat live food either store bought or from your back yard. I have never had a problem feeding my fire bellied newts brine shrimp. Filters are recommended for the tank in order to keep the water clean and toxin free. Keep in mind, when purchasing a filter, strong currents should be avoided. Fire bellied newts do well in any type of light, although, a set schedule should be kept (12 hours light - 12 hours dark). As long as your fire bellied newt was healthy when it was purchased, it should live a long and happy life.
Breeding Fire Bellied Newts
The odds of fire belly newts breeding in captivity are very slim. In order to provide adequate conditions for breeding, a larger aquarium is preferable. You should also make sure that there are fish tank plants (plastic or live) in the water filled part of your tank, female newts will attach their eggs along the leaves of the under water vegetation. In order to breed fire bellied newts, you will of course need at least one female and one male. Sexxing adult fire bellied newts is fairly easy, males have special glands at the base of their tail near the cloaca and females do not. When an male fire bellied newt reaches breeding age these glands will become swollen and easy to spot. It may take several months for your new pets to become comfortable enough in their new home to begin breeding. To insure optimal mating conditions avoid contact with your newts, this will help reduce any stress. If all goes well the female fire bellied newt will become visibly swollen with eggs. She will then lay the eggs and attach them to the leaves of underwater plants. These eggs will look like clusters of clear balls with a black seed like dot in the center. These eggs should be places in a separate tank, as they begin to hatch, they may be eaten by the adults.
Feeding Newborn Fire Bellied Newts
Once your fire bellied newt tadpoles hatch, you should feed them is brine shrimp. You may know brine shrimp as sea monkeys, this is the perfect food for your tadpoles because they are small and swims around the tank attracting your tadpoles' attention. You may want to purchase an air pump for the tadpole tank to keep the water aerated as these youngsters haven't developed internal lungs and can only breathe under water. Keeping your tank clean and full of oxygen will help the tadpoles grow into health adult fire belly newts. As you tadpoles develop limbs and begin their journey into their juvenile stage you may begin feeding them the same food you feed your adult fire bellied newts. Make sure that land is accessible to your juvenile newts as they will spend much of their time out of water until adulthood. You may be concern by the amount of time it takes your newts to become adults. They quickly grow from tadpoles to efts but will take much longer to become full sized adult fire bellied newts.
Fire Bellied Newt Tips
Here are a few tips to remember while keeping Fire Bellied Newts:
- Fire Bellied Newts should never be away from water. Although juvenile newts will spend most of their time on land, their skin must stay moist. If they dry out they will die.
- Fire bellied Newts are carnivores, make sure they are eating the food you provide for them. If not, try something different. Worms, brine shrimp, tadpoles, etc. You will notice certain newts will eat store bought pellets and others will only eat live food.
- Aside from tadpoles, fire bellied newts require both a water habitat and dry land. Preferably 1/3 dry and 2/3 water. Make sure your pets can easily access both land and water.
- Your tank should have under water vegetation, live or plastic. Don't worry these little guys won't eat plants, they'll just climb them and hide on them. This is not online good for breed your fire bellied newts but it will also provide them with a more natural environment.
- You should have a screen lid for your tank. You may think it's impossible for these tiny guys to escape but they are very good at it. The screen lid will stop your fire bellied newts from escaping while providing adequate air flow.
- Fire Bellied Newts require a balanced day and night cycle. You should keep them in the light( not direct sunlight) for about 12 hours and in the dark for 12 hours. You should also provide your newts with a shady place in case the light is too strong for them.
- If you get more newts, make sure you have a large enough tank. 2 to 3 fire bellied newts need a minimum of a 10 gallon tank. If you purchase more newts either get a larger or second tank. If you plan on breeding them, you will need a much larger tank.
- Do not handle your newts for too long a period of time or too often. Handling you pets will dry their skin. You should also wash your hands after touching a fire bellied newts as they release a toxin through their skin. It's fairly harmless to humans but better safe than sorry.
- When purchasing a fire belly newt, look at it carefully, if any of the newts in the terrarium look sick in anyway I would recommend purchasing your pet elsewhere.
- You may want to provide your newts with an aquarium heater for the colder months and an air pump to keep the water aerated, especially if you plan to breed them.
Below I have embed a video of some Japanese fire belly newts. It is a very good quality video, you will notice that these particular newts have more pebbly skin than others.