Posted Jul 24, 2014
When I was young, we had a Chinese fire belly newt. Because it can be stressful for them, and they excrete toxics through their skins, it is discouraged to pet them. Because the levels of toxics are so low, it won't harm you a lot, but it could harm other pets or children you might have if you don't properly wash your hands. I don't know if that was the reason, but the previous owner didn't like their newt. We found it on an afternoon in Fall at the garbage pickup point in the street, in a jar that used to hold jam, back then filled with water.
Luckily, Chinese fire belly newts aren't difficult pets to establish a good home for. They are best kept in an unheated aquarium with temperatures between 58-68 °F (14-20°C). So in the Summer, you'll probably have to make sure the water gets cooled. Feeding it was also very easy: give it a block of mosquito larvae, which any good pet store sells or can order on demand, and it was happy like a child in a candy store. They can also eat bloodworms, blackworms, earthworms, water fleas and adult brine shrimp. Large worms or larvae might have to be cut down in appropriate sizes first. If you are uncomfortable cutting a living worm, you might want to check their sizes before buying them. Some might also eat pellets or freeze-dried foods, though there are newts that will refuse to.
So, we quickly set everything up for our newest family member and we had lots of fun observing our newt for about five more years, until it suddenly died. A newt isn't a cat or a dog: you can't play with it like you would with one of those. It's really a pet to watch how it lives, which can be real fun to do if that's what you like. I remember sitting for hours straight in front of its aquarium. Sometimes, it would give a peek-a-boo at the glass, but that was pretty much all the interaction I had with my newt. Maybe that's why the previous owners put it in a jar of jam at the garbage, or maybe they had other fish or water animals in their aquarium with the newt (due to the excretion of toxic and aggressiveness from either the newt or the other water pet it is discouraged to hold them together).