Other common names: Red Spotted Newt; Central Newt; Peninsula Newt; Broken Striped Newt
Scientific name: Notophthalmus viridescens
The attractive, hardy Eastern Newt makes a fine pet for folks new to amphibian-keeping, yet its complex life history renders it of interest to experienced pros as well.
This is the most widely-distributed of North America’s many newts, being found from Nova Scotia to Ontario, Canada in the north and south to Mississippi and Texas, USA. Four subspecies are recognized.
The adult aquatic form inhabits the still, heavily-vegetated waters of ponds, swamps, ditches and lakes, while the terrestrial efts (juveniles) may be found in nearby open forests and brushy meadows.
Appearance / health:
The adult Eastern Newt’s upper body is green in color and sports 2 rows of red to orange spots along the back; the ventral surface is greenish-yellow. The efts are clad in brilliant orange-red or reddish-brown. Adults average 2.6-5.5 inches in length.
With proper care, Eastern Newts may live to 15+ years of age. Pets will swallow small gravel bits, resulting in intestinal blockages. If ammonia levels are not kept low, “Red Leg” and other bacterial/fungal infections will take hold.
Behavior / Temperament:
Adult Eastern Newts become quite bold in captivity, often swimming to the surface for a meal when people are sighted. They are active by day and seem always to be foraging for a snack. Efts are also likely to wander about by day.
Newt skin secretions may cause irritations when transferred to wounds, eyes, or the mouth. Toxins transferred to the eyes have caused temporary blindness. They should be handled only when necessary, and then by being urged into a water-filled container so that the skin’s protective mucus is not removed.
A 10 gallon aquarium can house 4-6 adults or efts; larger groups will get-along in more spacious quarters. Gravel should be avoided, or of a size that cannot be swallowed.
A submersible or other filter and weekly partial water changes will help ensure low ammonia levels. Strong currents from filter outflows should be avoided. Chlorine and chloramine must be removed from water used in aquariums via liquid preparations available at pet stores.
Adults are highly-aquatic but do require cork bark or floating plants as resting spots. The land-dwelling efts do well in terrariums stocked with moist carpet moss as a substrate, pieces of bark under which to shelter, and a shallow water bowl. Newts can climb glass, so a secure cover is needed.
Adult and eft-stage Eastern Newts should be kept at a temperature range of 65-74 F. Sustained temperatures above 78 F may render them susceptible to bacterial/fungal infections.
Commercial newt diets and freeze-dried prawn serve well as a mainstay for adults. Live blackworms, chopped earthworms, tiny crickets, and guppies provide excellent supplementary nutrition, or can be used as the main diet if preferred. Efts will accept only small, live invertebrates such as ¼ inch crickets, fruit flies, springtails, and chopped earthworms.
Males have thick rear legs and develop dark, hard pads on the rear toes and swollen cloacal swellings when in breeding condition. Normal room temperature fluctuations often stimulate reproduction, while a sudden increase of water volume and a drop in water temperature will do so at most any time of year.
Females attach 20-400 eggs to aquatic plants. The eggs hatch 3-4 weeks and the larvae transform in 2-7 months, depending upon the subspecies and temperature. The larvae can be reared on chopped live blackworms and frozen bloodworms.
In most cases, larvae transform into a land-dwelling form known as an eft. This stage lasts from 3-7 years, after which the efts return to water and take on the adult coloration. Some populations skip the eft stage, while in others the gills are retained and the “adult larvae” remain entirely aquatic but become capable of reproduction (this strategy is known as neoteny).
Written by Frank Indiviglio
smart, great pets, super cute, entertaining
aquatic aquarium, cleaning process
juvenile stage, smaller food items
Figgy the Newt - A Great Pet for Kids!
I desperately wanted a dog when I was 10 years old, but my parents said no. They compromised and got me a newt. I now understand why my parents didn't want to get me a dog: I felt responsible enough to care for a dog, but I was still really young! My newt, Figgy, was actually a wonderful substitute for a dog.
I loved Figgy. I could take him out of his cage and "play" with him. I actually got a second newt after Figgy, and I used to take them both out of their cage and let them race each other. Since newts move relatively slowly on land, I never had trouble keeping an eye on them when they were out of their cage. I was a child, but I believe I was always careful and gentle when handling them.
I also had a lot of fun watching Figgy in his habitat. He lived in a glass fish tank with a lid. We filled the bottom of the tank with water but added some rocks and floating wood chips so that Figgy could sit.
I was primarily responsible for Figgy's care. Cleaning the tank was a lot easier than cleaning a guinea pig or hamster's cage. It was also easier than cleaning a fish tank, since there was less water involved, and I don't believe we added anything to the water. I would simply remove Figgy from the tank and place him in a smaller tank (or have someone watch him), take out the rocks, dump the water, wash the tank, and refill the tank with water and the rocks. I let the water reach room temperature before putting Figgy back in.
A few caveats: the tank tended to have a fishy smell, even when clean. Figgy's food, in particular, smelled fishy. Another icky thing was that Figgy tended to climb up the sides of the tank, and a few times, he was able to get out of his tank. I would recommend that a newt owner ensure the tank / cage's lid fits tightly. Overall, I loved having newts and would recommend them as pets, especially for kids :).
From Jace Feb 28 2015 8:08PM
Eastern Newt - Notophthalmus viridescens
The Eastern Newt - Notophthalmus viridescens is a great alternative to the common or european Newt for thsoe living on the Eastern Coast of the USA. I love keeping these and I foudn them very exciting and interesting to keep and try to breed. They are a small and gentle species of newt and are absolutely stunning in my opinion. They very well in small 60 litre tank setups and require a small piece of land to rest on as well. I provide mine with a lot of moss on their piece of land that has a false bottom so that the water can drain out of it very easily. They eat very well and a great option for intermediate keepers that are looking for a small pet suitable for apartments or a bedroom. A great animal for any amphibian enthusiast..
From RobWedderburn Jan 25 2016 8:07AM
My parents brought home Newton to me when I was about twelve years old, and he was a bit of an interesting pet to have. He was not very social, actually rather reclusive, and a little aggressive. He did not like being touched. He wasn't very interactive, but was easy to provide for and feed. I wouldn't recommend this type of newt, unless you're looking for eye candy that won't interact with you; because despite his demeanor, he was very pretty..
From ametcalfe96 Apr 2 2014 1:34PM