Newts or Salamanders?

Amphibians can make good pets for people who are interested in their behaviors. They’re very unique and entertaining creatures to learn more about, and any exotic pet owner would be satisfied to have one in their home. Amphibians don’t require the amount of upkeep and attention that cats and dogs need, so they’re ideal pets for those who are more hands-off, as well as for children who want to take care of an animal. Most often, pet owners choose simple frogs or toads for pets, but the more exotic choices lie in newts or salamanders. If you’re debating on purchasing a newt or salamander but don’t know if you should take the plunge, read on!

Basic Info about Newts and Salamanders

fire salamander
Would you own a Fire Salamander? Photo by
Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash.

First of all, all newts are part of the salamander family, but not every salamander is a newt. Newts are more suited for aquatic life; their tails function as paddles and their feet are webbed for better agility and movement in the water. Salamanders, on the other hand, are better evolved for terrestrial life, or life on land. Their tails are rounded and not aquatically ergonomic, and their toes are strong and good for digging in the soil.

Newts and salamanders both produce toxic secretions as defense mechanisms, so you need to be extremely careful when handling them. You should actually avoid handling them if possible because their skin is delicate and you do not want to be affected by any of the toxins.

Even though the species have similarities, it is unwise to have them cohabitate. They can be aggressive towards one another and cause injuries. Some species are even cannibalistic; at the first sign of weakness or injury, they’ll end up eating each other. It’s best to keep your amphibians separately housed.

Newt and Salamander Diet

Newts and salamanders tend to eat many invertebrates, especially those that dwell in their natural habitats. It’s perfectly fine to feed newts and salamanders moths, beetles, tree crickets, certain types of caterpillars, mealworms, brine shrimp, bloodworms, night crawlers, white worms, and more.

You should gutload the insects so that your newt or salamander gets the appropriate amount of nutrients. This involves feeding the crickets or mealworms a specific diet; after all, the food of your pet’s food is your pet’s food, too!

With proper feeding and care, you can expect your newt or salamander to live a long life. Some species live up to 15 years!

Types of Newts and Salamanders for Pets

eastern newt
Newts come in a lot of different colors! Photo by lakewooducc from Pixabay.

There are a few different kinds of newts and salamanders that are appropriate as pets.

  • Axolotl: Axolotls are common salamanders to own. They’re also known as Mexican salamanders. They’re very unique in appearance and are completely aquatic.
  • Tiger Salamander: Tiger salamanders can grow over a foot long and live up to 25 years, so they’re a commitment! Because of their size, you can feed them small fish, which is a good way to save money on food by simply keeping a feeder fish tank on hand.
  • Fire Belly Newt: Fire belly newts have toxins that can irritate the skin, so you should avoid handling them when possible. They are a larger newt species, though, and require a sizeable semi-aquatic enclosure. The enclosure should allow the newt to move effortlessly between water and land, so add a slope or ramp for it to use.
  • Eastern Newt: Eastern newts come in a variety of colorings and require different housing for each stage of their life. Larvae and adults are primarily aquatic while juveniles are primarily terrestrial. However, adults are not fully aquatic, and you can provide some rocks or wood as a small terrestrial space, along with water. The water can be shallow or deep, so you don’t need to worry too much about tank size – but use a 10-gallon tank, at a minimum.

Other common species that people take in as pets include the California newt, Dunn’s salamander, the Fire salamander, and the Marbled salamander.

Generally, it’s wise to have larger tanks so that the amphibian can spend time both in the water and on land. You’ll want to populate the tanks with plants, rocks, wood, bark, and more to mimic the natural environment.

It’s extremely important that you keep the water filtered and that there are no pollutants, like ammonia, present. Newts and salamanders absorb water through their skin, so it’s crucial that the water is as clean as possible. You’ll need to partially change the water every so often and invest in an ammonia test kit to be safe.

Newts and salamanders are more sensitive to the environment than most other pets. You won’t be able to keep them in a tank or in an environment where the temperature regularly surpasses 75 degrees Fahrenheit – even 70 degrees Fahrenheit can be dangerous, as their immune systems become weak and they grow more susceptible to infections.

Cost of Newts and Salamanders

Newts and salamanders themselves are not too expensive. You can even find them for as low as $10, but many adults go for about $50. However, imported species may cost over $100.

The more expensive items, though, will be the tank, substrate, plants, rocks, bark, filter, testing kit, and light system. All of these together may end up costing between $300 and $500. It seems steep, but given the long lifespan of newts and salamanders, it’s an investment. Plus, you can reuse many of the purchases if you choose to get another pet down the line.

Exotic Pets at Allan’s Pet Center

Allan’s Pet Center in Los Angeles has a number of exotic pets for sale, including snakes, frogs, skinks, and more. Our staff consists of exotic pet experts and handlers who’ve been in the business for decades. We’re here to answer any questions you have about amphibians, too! If you’re curious about owning a newt or salamander, or if you want to expand into more exotic pets, feel free to contact us today or visit one of our locations. We’re conveniently located in both West Los Angeles and East Los Angeles, so your trip won’t be a hassle either way!


Allan's Pet Center

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