Everything you need to know to raise Fire-Bellied Newts
A newt is a small aquatic salamander, and looks-wise it is a much cuter version of a miniature lizard. Among the most beautiful, in my opinion, are the fire-bellied kind, and because they're so popular, you should find them easily at any good pet store.
The bright orange (and sometimes reddish) markings on the newt's underside are a warning to predators to keep away, and these black beauties like to show their colours off when they prop themselves up against the glass wall of the aquarium.
Best of all, I can bet most of your friends have never even heard of such a thing as a pet newt, and you can proudly show yours off in school at show-and-tell or during a biology project.
Here are some names for boy newts:
Some interesting names for girl newts:
Caring for your newt is quite easy, but it's a good idea, as I always say, to buy a book that tells you all about this fiery little four-legger. If you plan to get more than one, say three or four, a 20 gallon tank should do well, and you can create a 'land area' by sloping gravel against one side of the tank. You can also set up rocks, moss and pieces of driftwood or bark as hiding places, which can double as basking bays for your tail-wiggling trio or fiery foursome.
The bottom of your tank should be lined with smooth gravel, and the pebbles should be large enough so that your newts cannot swallow them. You might even want to give the tank a leafy touch by planting some aquatic plants, and if you do, don't forget to provide fluorescent lighting.
Prep the tank before the newts come home. Provide a filter that doesn't produce a strong current when it sucks in the water; better still, get an under-gravel filter. It is very important that you keep the tank's temperature low, between 58 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit (between 14 and 20 degrees Centigrade). An aquarium thermometer should be used to tell the temperature, because sticking your finger in the water and saying, "Hmm, seems cool enough" doesn't quite do the trick!
Anything above 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Centigrade) is terrible news for newts, and you should consider keeping the tank in a cool place, even a basement if you have one. Occasionally, you can float ice in the tank to bring the temperature down - just be sure not to use the tank to recreate the iceberg scene from the Titanic. Newts are terrible actors, you know.
If you're the type who likes to caress and play with your pet, a newt might not be such a good idea, unless you are OK with letting it walk over your hand only occasionally, so keep this in mind before you make your decision.
If the newts you see are thin or appear weak, it might mean that the poor fellows are not properly nourished or that they have a disease. If they have difficulty swimming and sumberging properly, this could point to diseases like bloat, which are very difficult to cure, so it's best not to choose these. Sorry, Bubba.
Also remember never to mix different species of newts together because they have different personalities. While it's not as bad as introducing the Terminator to Pee Wee Herman, let's just say that there could be 'issues'.
The fun bit is feeding your newts, and their mouths water when you throw in live earthworms from a pesticide-free yard, nightcrawlers from a bait shop (chopped if necessary), live blackworms/bloodworms (sold at pet stores), frozen bloodworms, live crickets, live waxworms, live slugs, spiders and bugs from outdoors. Of course, you can't see their mouths watering because they're submerged, but they do water indeed - now, would I lie to you?
Newly purchased newts may refuse to eat for several days, and while this may be a sign of illness, it is also a common behavior of healthy newts who are brought to a new environment. The best thing to do is remain patient. You'll know soon enough if they're ill or just adjusting to their new home.
Remember to feed them only every three days. You can mark feeding days on a calendar, so that you don't over- or under-feed.