Acquired: Pet store
New York, United States
Posted Jul 18, 2012
When my daughter was younger, she went through a "newt phase." She had seen a newt at the pet store, and then really wanted to keep one for a pet.
A newt? Well....they were sort of cute. And they seemed harmless enough. So we trucked on down to our local pet store and purchased a few. We brought them home, setting them up in our spare tank in my daughter's room. And then....tragedy struck.
At first, it looked like the newts were covered with small white spots. Then the white spots grew into a filmy fungus, that just seemed to take over. Limbs were lost, and they did not seem to be regenerating. It was icky and disturbing to say the least, and a horrible experience for my poor daughter. We tried some pills that the store recommended, but I think it was too late. Doom and gloom descended. The newts were lost.
So here's the thing: Make sure the newts you are buying come from a healthy tank. When I thought back on the buying experience, I realized the newts were being kept isolated. Had I inspected them closer, I may have even noticed tiny white spots on them. Live and learn!
Our next newt experience was far better. My daughter and I were older and wiser, now. We were newt veterans. We bought two newts from a different pet store. They were being kept with some little white frogs and some small fish, and everyone in the tank looked hail and hearty. We set the newts up at home in a half water/half gravel tank. My daughter even came up with the brilliant idea of making little styrofoam "rafts" for the newts to float around on, out of some packing material. The newts seemed to enjoy chilling on their white styrofoam "rocks."
My daughter always wanted to pick the newts up. After reading more about them, I told her that this wasn't healthy for the little critters - or for her, either. Newts have secretions on their body that can get on us, and we have salt and things on our hands that can get on them and disturb their secretions! Plus, handling newts too much stresses them out. Not that they bite or anything. It's just a good idea to observe these particular pets as oppose to toting them around. (If you do handle your newt, your hands should be wet to protect their mucus membrain...and be sure to wash your hands afterwards).
We sprinkled in small fish food pellets for them. This is a nice feature about newts; you don't have to be bothered with live food. However, the pet store recommended feeding them live blood worms as a treat (yum)!
All in all, I would say that newts are a great starter pet for kids. They're easy to care for, inexpensive, and you don't need a large tank. But remember, the newts do need a place where they can rest out of the water, and the tank definitely does need to be cleaned, even if you change just half the water at a time. Also, be sure to inspect your newts when you buy them to make sure they are healthy and have no white spots!