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The Worm Lady  | Newts 

 What do you feed your Newts?

Newts in captivity can live a long life, with proper care, so be prepared for a long term commitment as life spans are typically 10-15 years, with some known to live even 2 decades or longer.
Newts are mostly Insectivorous and you'll want to get healthy insects to feed them so you'll need to find a reliable, reputable supplier of quality live feeder insects / worm feeders to insure your newts stay healthy and happy.

Popular Newts - Easy to care for

 Mandarin Newts (Tylototranton shanjing)

The majority of Mandarin Newts, when well cared for in captivity, can live for more than 15 years with some living over 2 decades.  They are native to Yunan Province China and adults reach a size of 4.5 to 6 inches (14-16 cm) with some even getting to 8 inches (20 cm) in length.

They are quite attractive with their bright colouring and fun to watch when actively chasing live feeder insects, which is their preferred foods.  Note that the glandular dorsolateral tubercles and other skin glands do produce a virulent toxin so care must be taken to always carefully wash your hands both before and after handling this (or any other) newts.

HOUSING: This newt prefers seasonably cool winter temperatures of 58-62 degrees F, and summer temps of 72-78 F, and will thrive in either a woodland terrarium with a small 4" deep x 7" x 9" oval or rectangular (10 cm deep x 17 x 22 cm) water receptacle buried to its rim in the substrate, or a semi-aquatic terrarium.  The water must be kept clean and fresh and be easily accessible, with an easy egress (such as a gently inclined ramp) from the water, placed among rocks and live plants, their preferred habitat.  Because of its larger size this newt should be housed in a 15-20 gallon terrarium and thus be happy singly or in small groups.

Although terrestrial most of the year the Mandarin Newt often will become aquatic in spring and summer so sufficient water and land must be made available for the newt to choose its preference.  Newts are predatorial insectivores so they much prefer being offered live insects and worms to eat, live feeders they can chase and catch, than dry food pellets or freeze-dried worms.

FEEDING: Mandarin Newts as easily fed and will generally readily accept chopped night crawlers, bloodworms (live or frozen), earthworms (not manure worms), small isopods, brine shrimp, glass shrimp, small crickets and baby superworms, Phoenix Worms, small silkworms, waxworms, and mealworms occasionally.  Some will also like daphnia and freeze-dried tubilex cubes, and floating reptile/amphibian sticks such as Repto-Min can also be fed.  Larger Newts may also eat feeder guppies.
Mandarin Newt on a leaf (pohto courtesy: Bill Love)

 Mandarin Newt relaxing on a leaf.

Emperor Newt (Mandarin newt) is a near threatened species (photo courtesy: www.arkive.org)

Mandarin or Emperor Newt

Used courtesy of Arkive.org

Eastern Newts (Notophthalmus viridecens)

The 3 species of newts found in the eastern and central United States are all called 'Eastern Newts', and are related to the salamander family native to the Southern USA, and are found in two groupings: Aquatic (neotenic or paedomorphic) adult size that can reach 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches in length (6 - 8.5 cm), and Transformed terrestrial adult stage that grow a bit larger, from 3-5 inches (7-12 cm).  Their range extends to Eastern USA and South-Eastern Canada in forested areas, woodland ponds, shallow, weedy lake edges, oxbows, and sometimes in marshes and swamps.  They occasionally colonize quiet waters connected to backwaters and eddies along brooks and rivers.

The 3 species are: The very uncommon, and locally distributed, Striped and Black-Spotted newts (found in the south-eastern US and Texas, respectively); and the Common Eastern newt; There are 4 sub-species of the Eastern Newt: Red-Spotted Newt (N.v.viridescens), the Central Newt (N.v.louisianensis), the Broken-Striped Newt (N.v.dorsalis), and the Peninsule Newt (N.v.piaropicola).. 

Adults of the four sub-species are defined as follows:

Red-Spotted newt: the most north-easterly sub-species - olive dorsal colour with black-spotted yellow belly and red dorsolateral spots highlighted with black edged perimeters.

Central newt: found in the central states and along the Gulf Coast, and the south-eastern coastal plain - olive dorsal colour with black-spotted yellow belly and red dorsolateral spots, sometimes edged in black.

Broken-Striped newt: found in south-eastern Carolina - olive dorsal colour with black-spotted yellow belly and red dorsolateral markings in the form of broken red stripes that are partially to completely edged in black.

Peninsula newt: found only in the Florida peninsula - olive dorsal colour with black-spotted yellow belly; has NO red dorsolateral markings.

The life-cycle of newts is complex, having both aquatic and terrestrial stages, and where climatic conditions allow, its life becomes even more complex.  If moisture conditions are suitable the newt passes from the larval stage (within 2-6 months incubation) to the Eft (terrestrial stage) for a duration of 2-4 years. During the terrestrial Eft stage Eastern Newts are more at home in moist woodland habitats.  These make good pets as they are easier to care for than true amphibians. However, if moisture levels are not suitable the eft stage will be bypassed and the newt may reach sexual maturity in the larval form, or transform directly into the aquatic adult stage.  Development duration (in all stages: egg, larvae, eft, and adult) are highly variable since they are largely dictated by moisture and ambient temperatures.

Note that the glandular dorsolateral tubercles and other skin glands do produce a virulent toxin so care must be taken to always carefully wash your hands both before and after handling this (or any other) newts.

Adults may live 10-25 or more years in captivity, when properly cared for, so it is very important to find a reliable, reputable supplier of quality live feeder insects / worm feeders to insure your newts stay healthy and happy.

HOUSING: Since this Eastern newt is small and slender a ten (10) gallon setup is adequate to keep from one to several Central Newts comfortably, if you provide them with a heavily planted aquatic setup.  Water filtration does help but is not mandatory if you perform periodic partial or full water changes.  The water and terrarium temperatures should be kept in the low 70s since higher temps tend to promote bacteria and disease.  The Peninsula newts are the only sub-species that can tolerate temperatures into the high 70s for longer periods.

FEEDING: Eastern Newts, like all newts, are carnivorous and easily fed. They will generally readily accept both live and prepared foods, but efts are inclined to eating ONLY LIVE foods, such as: daphnia, black worms and Phoenix Worms, white worms and silkworms, diced earthworms and small isopods, pesticide-free aphids and termites.

Eastern newt on tree branch (courtesy of: Dick Bartlett

Eastern Newt on a tree branch 

Eastern Newt juvenile in grassy patch

 Eastern Newt (juvenile) in grassy patch

Eastern Newt on tree trunk

Eastern Newt on tree trunk 

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