To successfully keep a newt as a pet, you'll need to understand what type of newt you have so you can set up the right habitat for him. After your newt has settled into his new space, your role is to feed him properly and provide good housekeeping.
Choosing a Newt
Deciding which type of newt you're interested in caring for is an important first step because different newts have different habitat requirements. The species of newts commonly available as pets include the Japanese fire-bellied newt, the Himalayan knobby newt, the Spanish ribbed newt and the most widely available newt, the Chinese fire-bellied newt. You may be lucky and find a Japanese fire-bellied newt in a pet store, however, you'll likely need to locate a breeder to find him, the Spanish ribbed newt and the Himalayan knobby newt.
Generally, a 20-gallon aquarium, approximately 24 inches long, 12 inches wide and 15 inches high, is appropriate for holding three or four newts. The habitat's specific environment depends on the type of newt that will live there.
- Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt: Requires cool aquarium. Water temperature range 58 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Needs a few small land areas so he can exit the water. Water temperature no higher than 74 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Japanese Fire Bellied Newt: Aquatic or semi-aquatic, depending on species. Prefers densely planted aquarium with small land area. Water temperature between 60 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Excessive temperature can stress this newt.
- Himalayan Knobby Newt: Needs a completely aquatic environment with water temperature above 64 degrees Fahrenheit and sufficient land for emerging. Some subspecies prefer semi-aquatic environment. Water
depth between 5 and 6 inches. Water temperature up to 77 degreesFahrenheit in summer.
- Spanish Ribbed Newt: Prefers water temperature below 72 degrees
Fahrenheit. Water level between 6 and 8 inches. Aquatic area should beheavily planted with a small island.
Don't forget to keep a secure cover on your newt's habitat as these fellows like to climb and can be escape artists.
Newts can eat a variety of live invertebrates, such as earthworms, night crawlers and bloodworms. Don't rely on what you dig up in your yard, as you don't want to feed your newt anything that might have pesticides. Instead, look to pet stores or bait shops for food. Other potential food includes live crickets, slugs and wax worms, as well as frozen bloodworms. Reptile pellets are also available for newts, however, newts typically prefer live food over dry food.
A healthy, adult newt can usually eat about every third day. If he's still a juvenile or is underweight from his time in the pet store, he'll need daily feeding. It's not unusual for a newly purchased newt to be underweight, however, take care not to feed him too much too quickly. Offer him small amounts of live food on a toothpick or tweezers daily. A newt will typically eat until he's full, so obesity is usually not a problem. Remove any uneaten food within a few hours to keep his home's water clean. If your new newt isn't interested in eating, he may be stressed from the change in environment. Leave him in the dark so he can get used to his new surroundings.
Tank maintenance will vary according to how many newts are in the space and the type of newts living in the tank. Some newts, such as the Himalayan knobby newt, don't mind moving water, meaning they may live with a filtration system. Generally, a partial water change schedule should be 10 percent weekly or 20 percent every two weeks. Tap water is often suitable for a newt's habitat, but it should not contain chlorine or chloramine. Bottled spring water can be substituted for tap water. Though clean water is very important to keeping a healthy newt, a total water change should be avoided except in extreme situations, such as infectious disease or serious water-related issues.