Kaiser's Spotted Newt

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Other common names: Lorestan Newt, Luristan Newt, Emperor Spotted Newt, Zagros Newt, Iranian Harlequin Newt, Kaiser Newt

Scientific name: Neurergus kaiseri

The basics:
This spectacularly-colored newt, relatively new to the pet trade, has quickly become one of the world’s most sought-after species. As wild populations are threatened by over-collection, only captive bred specimens should be purchased (wild-caught animals are now protected by international law). This endangered species is best left to the care of zoos and highly-skilled private keepers.

The Kaiser’s Spotted Newt is limited to Iran’s southern Zagros Mountains, where it has been documented at only 4 sites. It is found in and along mountainous streams flowing through arid scrubland and open forests.

Appearance / health:
The jet black body is marked with a highly-variable pattern of white spots and bands, and a red-orange or yellow dorsal stripe. The legs bear red-orange and white markings. Adults reach 14 cm (5.6 in) in length.

Behavior / temperament:
Kaiser’s Spotted Newts adjust well to captivity if provided proper care. Aquatic phase adults are more active and easier to maintain than are terrestrial specimens.

Newt skin secretions may cause irritations when transferred to wounds, eyes, or the mouth. They should be handled only when necessary, and then by being urged into a water-filled container or with wet hands so that the skin’s protective mucus is not removed.

Two to three adults may be kept in a 10 gallon aquarium; larger tanks will support groups. Moist sphagnum or carpet moss makes a good substrate, with cork bark rolls serving as retreats. Adults in the aquatic (breeding) phase should be kept in a filtered aquarium half-filled with chlorine/chloramine-free water and supplied with floating plants and cork bark as resting spots. Gravel, if used, should be of a size that cannot be swallowed. Kaiser’s Spotted Newts do best at 60-68 F, but will remain active at higher and lower temperatures.

A variety of tiny invertebrates should be provided as food. Sow bugs, small crickets, white worms, fruit flies, blackworms, chopped earthworms and other invertebrates are accepted. Aquatic forms readily devour commercial newt chow as well as live foods. Most meals offered to terrestrial adults should be coated with a powdered Calcium/Vitamin D3 supplement. A vitamin/mineral supplement may be used 2-3x weekly.

Breeding males may be distinguished by the swollen area about the cloaca. A cooling-off period of 4-6 weeks at 40-50 F may spark breeding activity. Females attach their eggs, singly or in small groups, to submerged plants or rocks. The larvae may be raised on live blackworms and frozen bloodworms. Metamorphosis is attained in 2-3 months, depending upon temperature.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

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