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FAQs About Eastern Newts (Notophthalmus viridescens)

Related Articles: Amphibians, Turtles

Related FAQs: Amphibians 1, Amphibians 2,

& FAQs by Groups/Species: Axolotls, Efts, Fire Belly Newts, Hellbenders, Tiger Salamanders, Water Dogs, & African Dwarf Frogs, African Clawed Frogs, Rubber Eels/CaeciliansTurtlesAmphibian Identification, Amphibian Behavior, Amphibian Compatibility, Amphibian Selection, Amphibian Systems, Amphibian Feeding, Amphibian Disease, Amphibian Reproduction, Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens). Commonly called a Red-spotted newt, here pictured in the juvenile stage where it is called a red eft.

red spotted newt; kept indoors for good... sys., fdg.    11/23/11
My daughter found a red-spotted newt back in the summer and we kept him - i didn't think at the time that this was a bad idea - lots of wild animals are brought into captivity. so i bought a tank in a size the store
recommended (doing the math, though, I now know it's a 6 gallon tank). that's smaller than what I'm reading is a good size,
<Correct. You want something at least three times as big. Save the pennies if need be.>
although it seems to be big enough for him.
<For now, perhaps.>
1/2 is moss, plants to climb, and 2 rocks set up leaning against each other to create a 'cave'. in the water section, i have used a ramp filled with water and built the gravel up around the sides so that he has land he can easily get to on that side, too. (he hates the water. goes to it often to sit in it, with surface still under him so that he's not underwater.
<Sounds good.>
but will never swim by choice.
<Whereas most amphibians are aquatic as tadpoles but terrestrial as adults, the Eastern Spotted Newt is odd in that adults head back *into* the water once they reach a certain age. So, if your specimen is still quite small (adults are about 12 cm/5 inches long) then it may be a "teenager" in its terrestrial phase.>
if he does happen to reach a point where he has to swim, he scurries as fast as he can to get back to where there's some land under him.) set up the tank per instructions from a different store that had someone very knowledgeable about reptiles. he's done great - i feed him live earthworms, cut into small pieces. he used to eat it from tweezers i was holding but lately he's been refusing to eat from me, but will sometimes eat them when I set them near him. his eating and movement slowed, which I've read is
normal this time of year. his water temp is about 60 degrees and the room he's in ranges from 60-70. the room temp will go down as it gets colder (i live in the mountains) I've read you should slowly lower the temp in the tank to 40 degrees-I'm not sure how to do that-there is no room in my house that would ever be that cold.
<All sounds good. Might vary the diet a bit though.>
now to the question! main concerns: 1st, as I said, his eating has slowed.
used to be between 1/2 to 1 earthworm every other day. now he sometimes goes almost a week without eating, and hasn't eaten more than 1/2 a worm when he does eat. but his movement hasn't slowed. it did for a while, but now he actually seems to be more active, but not eating more-eating still staying at about once, maybe twice a week. and he doesn't 'go after' the worm as enthusiastically as before-he looks at it for a long time but takes forever to attempt to eat it.
<Lay off the food for a few days. Then offer something new, e.g., wet-frozen bloodworms or even a tiny piece of chopped fish. See what happens. Boredom will set in if you keep feeding the same thing indefinitely, and who knows, perhaps his body is "telling" him he needs something with different nutrients.>
2nd (and the biggest) is he has always climbed the walls every now and then, but lately it seems almost constant, obviously with periods of rest/sleep, but much more waking hours and climbing than before (my tank has a mesh lid, so no danger of escaping), but i worry about him hurting himself. he climbs almost to the top and then of course falls at some point when he can't hold on anymore, and i cringe when he falls! lands on his side or back sometimes - sometimes on his rock, sometimes on the air filter, sometimes in the water, but there's gravel just below the surface.
can he harm himself doing this, and if so, is there anything I can do to keep him from being able to climb that high up the wall?
<My guess here would be his home is too small, and he's feeling the need to escape, if only to find a place with potential mates. Get a bigger aquarium, and get another newt (of a different sex!) so this chap has a
reason to stay.>
thanks for any help, Julie
<Do Google "Notophthalmus viridescens" and "care" and you'll come up with much useful information. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: red spotted newt (= Eastern Spotted Newt, Notophthalmus viridescens) 11/29/11

thanks for the reply.  I bought a bigger tank but have not set it up yet. The store was out of bloodworms, so instead I got some 'newt and salamander bites', which I would wet to soften them and offer that to him, but he wouldn't eat them.  The store also gave me some small crickets to try, but he won't eat those either.  I tried an earthworm today, but he still won't eat.  It has been probably 2 weeks or more since he's eaten. He looks very skinny and now it almost seems as if his eyes are 'disappearing' - kind of half-closed.  And he jumps if I touch him with the food - seems like he doesn't even see it so then is startled by it when it touches him.  He's still mobile, though, and still climbing occasionally. I'm real worried about him not eating.  When the store gets some bloodworms in, I can try them, but it just seems like he's not going to eat anything.  Is there anything else I can do to save this poor guy?  I just don't understand - he's been perfectly fine for 6 months and now so different.
<I wish I could be more positive here, Julie, but really, I can't. It's possible that this animal might perk up with good care and a bit of extra warmth to get its immune system into gear. But my gut feeling is that this Newt needs intervention from a vet if it's to have any chance of recovery.
Lack of vitamins, for example, can cause lethargy and half-blindness, and you need to inject the reptile or amphibian with those vitamins to turn things around. If nothing else, a vet will be able to tell you if there's any chance of this animal getting better again. Failing that, you might be able to get extra help from an animal rescue place that specialises in wild animals, or through a herpetology club/association in your city. Sorry not to be able to offer better news, Neale.>

Re: red spotted newt (= Eastern Spotted Newt, Notophthalmus viridescens) -- 12/5/11

I took my newt to a vet that works with newt (had to drive an hour and a half!),
<Crikey! Good karma though, doing such a thing for a newt'¦>
and as you suspected, he gave him an injection of vitamins.
He said that the newt looked healthy, though, and had a reasonable amount of 'fat' on him.
He still would not eat anything last week, but he ate one piece of a worm last night!  Not much, but better than nothing.  I asked him, morally, what the right thing to do was, and I'd like your opinion on this, too.  I just have always wondered if the newt knows that he is 'confined' and when he's crawling up the tank it's because he knows there's an outside and he wants out - in which case, it's cruel to keep him.
<Quite possibly, but the intellectual abilities of the newt are pretty low, so I wouldn't be too concerned.>
Or am I providing him with a safe home which resembles a natural environment - in which case there is nothing wrong with keeping a newt that we found outside and kept.
<Indeed, and given the high mortality rate of small animals like these, he could easily be eaten or dried up someplace by now anyway. Releasing him may not even be an option this time of year.>
He said that while he is not placing judgment, in his opinion, it is absolutely NOT 'ok' morally to keep him, and that I should release him.
<I can see where the vet is coming from. Removing a wild animal, even if legal to do so, does mean you're choosing to put your pleasure above the natural instincts and activities of the animal in question. That may be justifiable in some cases, if, for example, you're learning about the newt and you're going to use what you're learning to understand the ecology of your local wilderness. People have be doing that for centuries. But if an animal is removed without any care being made to provide for its welfare, and the animal is merely a glorified keepsake that dies prematurely, then that's not defensible. It sounds like you're doing the best you can, and frankly, the animal is safe and secure.>
He felt it was a good idea to see if I could get him to eat some, first, but then release him.
<An option, provided of course the newt hasn't been in contact with any other pet amphibians, reptiles or fish. That would be a problem because newts could carry diseases into the wild from pet animals.>
I live in the mountains, so I worry about releasing him to a below 30 degree environment after being at a comfortable 60-70 degrees every day.  He said he thought he'd be fine - that'd he'd know what to do to survive, but I just still worry!
<I can see both sides here. With the weather turning so cold, and without you really knowing how well equipped this animal is to survive the winter and/or claim a suitable hibernating spot, I'd be leery of doing this. But if, in spring, he's fattened up and doing well, you might choose to release him. I'd contact your local Fish & Wildlife or park ranger before doing anything else.>
Do you agree that it's best for him to be released, and if so, would you recommend waiting until Spring, or even after being 'domesticated' for over 6 months that it's safe to just go ahead and release him??
<The thing is, after 6 months, he'll be totally adapted to captive life. I'd be looking at getting him a mate, breeding him, and then maybe releasing the offspring into the wild.>
And I worry that I won't release him in the best 'spot' to ensure it has everything he needs.  I have a creek in my back yard, so the vet said just take him there.
<Possibly. But do look up Notophthalmus viridescens online, and find out the sort of habitats it prefers. Adults are primarily aquatic, so a pond or ditch would be about right.>
But should I look for a place that has anything in particular?  Hollow logs?  Sand?  Brush??  And it's a fast-flowing creek.  If he goes down to the creek for water, won't he just get swept away??
<Could well be. Still or slow-moving water is best, ideally without fish. Ponds and lakes with lots of vegetation around the margins are ideal.>
I know you probably think I'm being obnoxious worrying this much about him, but I'm just that way!
<Not a bad thing at all.>
Once I take an animal in, I have emotions attached to it and want to do everything I can to keep it safe!
<Yes, natural and I'd say a positive thing.>
Any final help/advice you could provide would be great appreciated - I feel your advice about going to the vet for an injection of vitamins definitely saved him.
<Glad to have helped.>
<Don't worry too much. In the big scheme of things, one newt either way isn't going to affect the wild populations. Learn what you can about this species, read up on how others keep Notophthalmus viridescens in captivity, and use what you learn to provide him with a better home and through that, for you to better appreciate your local wildlife. That's an age-old approach to natural history that surely goes back to Aristotle. Cheers, Neale.>

Eastern Newts, hlth.    3/6/10
First of all great website, I've been dying to find out what's wrong with my pet newt.
I've had this eastern newt since she was a red eft about 15 yrs and her eyes are disappearing, first it was one and yrs later the other is slowly going away, what is causing this, I started giving her pellets years back could it be that? it says they can grow limbs back but so far nothing, is it old age? she's a fighter, she almost died several times but fought hard and is a survivor.
Can anyone please help
<Robert, 15 years is a good age for Notophthalmus viridescens, so old age may be part of the problem. As animals age, their immune systems do tend to worsen, and they become more sensitive to environmental problems. So far as things to check go, as always, a good place to start is a review of water quality. When both eyes become infected, that's usually a sign of poor water quality, with the cornea becoming cloudy and eventually the eye swelling outwards as fluid collects behind the eyeball. Because Notophthalmus viridescens spends so much time in the water, it is particularly sensitive to non-zero ammonia and nitrite levels. Eyes won't grow back, unfortunately. Good quality pellets should provide an adequate diet, though I'm someone who does recommend a varied died, admittedly with pellets as the core, but with suitable live foods as well. Earthworms, small crickets, waxworms and so on are good for this species. Cheers, Neale.>

Re: Eastern Newts   3/7/10
Thank you for your help
<No problem.>
Her eyes didn't get cloudy or swollen or infected, but actually got smaller and smaller over time until they were gone
<That's odd. Could indeed be either metabolic (i.e., a dietary thing) or an infection of some type.>
I use always bottled water, she has never been in tap water, so I was thinking maybe she is missing a mineral or something in her diet
<I'm not sure salamanders get anything directly from the water in terms of calcium or whatever, though that's a branch of their biology I'm sure we're generally ignorant about. Bottled hard, basic water (i.e., mineral water rather than distilled water) is generally fine, though expensive, and if that means you scrimp on water changes, I'd always recommend going with tap water (not softened tap water) rather than anything else. Salamanders will adapt to hard, basic tap water just fine, though you do of course need to add suitable water conditioner.>
And I give her frozen bloodworms once in a while, with the pellets as the staple It must be the water somehow, maybe I should clean it more than once a week
<Bloodworms are always popular, but they aren't especially nutritious.
Earthworms are better because they contain soil, and the soil is (obviously!) mineral rich. Failing that, running two or three different blister packs of wet frozen foods at a time is a good workaround, perhaps bloodworms, krill and fortified brine shrimp. Between them, these would make a good supplement to good quality pellet foods.>
Thank you for your help and if you ever hear of anything please let me know
You guys do a great service
<Glad to help, and thanks for the kind words. Cheers, Neale.>

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