Newts are fascinating creatures and make for wonderful pets, but before you decide to rush out and buy one, it is important that you learn all you can about what is involved in caring for newts. It is not a simple case of purchasing one and then leaving it to its own devices. It is your responsibility to ensure the newt is cared for properly. This means learning about things such as what type of environment it prefers, what type of food it eats, and what to do should it start laying eggs.
Where Do Newts Live?
Newts can be either aquatic (live just in water) or semi-aquatic (live in both water and on land), depending on the species. In the wild, newts are found mainly in the Northern Hemisphere d they tend to be found in places such as grasslands, forests, swamps, and croplands. As mentioned, there are those that are completely aquatic, meaning they can be found in ponds, marshes, and lakes.
If you are considering a newt as a pet, do your research to find out whether or not it will require just water or a combination of water and land. Either way, it is best to have a tank with water that is deep enough for the newt to dive and swim as well as resting spots which can come in the form of floating plants (live or plastic) or turtle platforms. You need to ensure the aquarium has a screen cover top as these creatures are adept at climbing glass.
You can choose to line the bottom of the tank with as substrate, or you could leave it bare. Tanks with bare bottoms are obviously easier to clean. If you do decide to have a substrate, choose gravel that is smooth but large enough that it cannot be swallowed by the newt(s).
Know that tap water is not suitable for newt aquariums as it contains chemicals that could be harmful to the animal. You can use spring water or water purification but ensure that the PH of the water is between 6.5 and 7.5. The ideal PH level is 7.0. PH testing kits are both cheap and easily available. Amazon has a great selection here if you’re interested.
You will need a filter to keep the water in the tank clean, but you will still need to change some of the water in the tank regularly to prevent ammonia build-up becoming a problem. Changing a quarter of the tanks water each week should be sufficient. The temperature of the water should ideally be between 60F and 68F, but room temperature is adequate enough. It is important, however, to be aware that some newt species do not do well in water above temperatures of 75F as their immune systems can be weakened at this temperature and above.
What Do Newts Eat?
Newts are carnivores, meaning that they do not eat plants. In fact, newts are anatomically incapable of digesting plant matter. In the wild, they eat things such as insect larvae, brine shrimp, tadpoles, molluscs, and aquatic insects. Newts in captivity can be fed a variety of insects. It is best to feed them gut-laden worms and insects such as mealworms, crickets, bloodworms, and white worms.
Adult newts do not require feeding every day. Instead you should offer food every two to three days; and because newts are nocturnal, it is best to feed them at night. To ensure your newts are getting the required vitamins and minerals, you could sprinkle food with a multivitamin and calcium supplement.
If you have a male and female newt, the chances are they will eventually mate. Be aware though that female newts can lay hundreds of eggs (depending on the species). They typically lay their eggs in the leaves of plants. They do this so that the eggs are hidden to protect them from predators. As well as this, adult newts sometimes eat newt eggs. So if the eggs are not in plain sight, they have a better chance of survival.
To ensure the survival of your hatched newt larvae, it is best to remove the adult newts once the eggs have hatched as they have also been known to eat their own young. Once the larvae have grown, you can place the adults back in the same aquarium.
Newt larvae require feeding more often than adult newts. You will also need to look for micro foods that they can eat, such as micro worms or newly hatched brine shrimp. Alternatively, you could chop earthworms into small pieces so that it is easier for them to manage. So while adult newts require feeding every two to three days, larvae have be fed daily to help them grow.
How Long Do Newts Live?
There are some common misconceptions about how long newts live. There are those who believe newts only live for a year or two, but this is not true. In fact, with proper care and attention, some newt species can live up to fifteen years. In fact, the average lifespan of smooth newts in the wild is six to fourteen years. In captivity, this can be even longer.
Newts are interesting creatures and make for great pets. They are also quite easy to look after provided they have suitable housing and are fed regularly.
- Featured Image (Eastern Newt Red Eft): lakewooducc – https://pixabay.com/service/license/
- Common Newt: Ian Kirk – This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
- Alpine Newt: Kathy2408 – https://pixabay.com/service/license/
- Great Crested Newt: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/