Other common names: Orange-bellied Newt, Coastal Range Newt, Sierra Next
Scientific name: Taricha torosa
Although the California Newt does well in captivity, it is capable of causing human fatalities if ingested (see below), and declining in the wild. It is best left to zoos and well-experienced, adult keepers.
Two subspecies with distinct ranges are known. The Coastal Range Newt ranges from northern California, USA along the coastline to the vicinity of San Diego. The Sierra Newt occurs inland, from northern to southern California in and along the Sierra Nevada Mountains. California Newts dwell in mountainous coniferous forests, deciduous woodlands, and hilly grasslands.
Appearance / Health:
The upper surfaces are light to dark brown in color, while the ventral area is yellow or orange. Adults reach 5.5-7.6 inches in length.
Captive longevities of 20+ years have been recorded. Heat stress, and the resulting bacterial and fungal infections, is the most commonly-encountered health concern.
Behavior / Temperament:
California Newts adjust well to captivity if kept properly. Aquatic phase adults are easier to maintain than are terrestrial specimens.
In common with all members of the genus Taricha, California Newts produce a powerful toxin known as Tetrodotoxin. They have been responsible for human fatalities when ingested. Their skin secretions may also cause serious health concerns when transferred to wounds, eyes, or the mouth.
A single adult can be kept in a 10 gallon aquarium; larger tanks can support small groups.
Moist sphagnum or carpet moss makes a good substrate, and cork bark rolls or plastic caves serve well as retreats. Adults in the aquatic phase (captives may move into water even if not in breeding condition) should be kept in a filtered aquarium half-filled with cool, chlorine-free water and supplied with cork bark or floating plants as resting spots. Gravel, which may be swallowed, should not be used.
California Newts do best at 50 -70 F, and will remain active at lower temperatures. They are stressed and eventually rendered ill by sustained warm temperatures.
Earthworms are ideal as the bulk of a California Newt’s diet. Sow bugs, small crickets, butterworms, blackworms, and other commercially-available invertebrates should also be offered. Aquatic forms accept commercial newt chow.
Most meals should be coated with a powdered Calcium/Vitamin D3 supplement. A vitamin/mineral supplement should be used 2-3x weekly.
Mature males may be distinguished from females by the swollen area about the cloaca and the tail’s swimming fin. A cooling-off period of 4-6 weeks at 36-40 F may spark breeding activity. Females attach flat egg masses containing 5-20 eggs to submerged plants and rocks. The larvae may be raised on live blackworms and frozen bloodworms. Metamorphosis is attained in 2 weeks to 2.5 months, depending upon temperature.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
Interesting addition, simple small aquarium, older children, great pets
copperbased fish meds
haulingout areas, relatively drier skin, small crickets suffice, reptile pellets Tetra
California Newt's Always Smile :)
I remember getting two of these guys many years ago because they looked like they were always smiling. It was also the first time I created a terrarium, filling a 10 gallon tank halfway full while putting up supports for vegetation above. The newts loved it, they'd swim in the water and basque in the sun (aquarium lights) whenever they wanted. There was only one problem, they're good climbers and not exactly great for a newbie in this field. I found quite a few times the newts would climb the filter rod out of the tank. And on two separate occasions we found missing ones under furniture months after being missing.
They're amazing pets, loved being handled, easy to care for, just make especially sure that they're not any openings they could get out of..
From Maverycke Aug 3 2014 8:41PM
Interesting addition to any tropical terrarium
My brother and I had two California newts in our large terrarium housed with some other reptiles and amphibians. They are small, docile, cute, and easy to care for in a proper environment, so can be easily recommended for terrarium enthusiasts.
Our terrarium was a tropical environment with both land and water. The newts tended to stick to the water, often just floating around or lounging around on the log we put in their pond. They are not the most active animals, nor are they particularly fascinating to watch, so don't expect hours of entertainment from them. Like many amphibians, these newts are generally content to just “chill.”
Ours remained small, and didn't grow any larger than maybe five inches from snout to tail – maybe even more like four inches. All they really need is adequate food (small crickets suffice) and a wet, warm environment. They are not the best pets for handling, as amphibians require constant moisture and can't tolerate long periods outside of their habitat. Excessive disruptions to their environment will also cause stress which can lead to health problems.
Overall, while not my favorite animals in the world, these were fine additions to our tropical terrarium environment. They are fairly common, so if you are looking for a small newt or salamander to add to your terrarium, a California newt should suit you just fine..
From CLucas Jun 14 2014 6:25PM
Salamander Not To Big on The Idea
We would always find salamanders in our basement. I remember having to go down there for one thing or another. Since it had a dirt floor the salamanders would be there often. One day my sisters and I decided it would be fun trying to make one a pet. Even though they don’t seem to be too terribly active, well at least the ones we found. They still didn’t really make great pets. They still had special needs and they seemed like a lot of work to take care of and keep healthy. Needless to say we resorted to just visiting them in the basement every once and awhile. I’m sure if we knew how to care for amphibians better than it would have been a better experience but it was what it was back then..
From Robin Nelson-Shellenbarger Nov 11 2013 7:29PM