How to Keep Your New Gold Belly Newt

Inside scoop from Aqualand Pets Plus on Taricha torosa

 
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Gold Belly Newt Factoids

Origin

California high country

Sexing Males larger

Maximum Size

Seven to eight inches

Longevity 15 years

Housing

Bigger the better -- with a good cover

Security

Toxic skin

Environment

Terrestrial -- treat like a salamander

Temperature

Room temperature or lower

Attitude

Watchful

Foods

Insists on live foods

Water

Needs clean water.  Change it often.


LA
Kind of cute.  Maybe it depends on how you were raised?

Origin.  In the hilly parts of California where these little critters come from, they close the roads during their breeding season.  Gold belly newts are quite common in certain areas and are also called California newts.  Oddly enough, they are illegal in the pet trade in California.

LA
Gold belly newts don't run.  They just sort of "slip-sliding" away.

Appearance.  Orange/brown on top and a brighter orange or gold on the belly – a warning to potential predators not to eat them.  Cute looking to humans.  Do not eat them.

LA
Well fed newts after a lunch of live California blackworms.

 

Maximum Size.  Gold belly newts hit the market at four to six inches.  They grow to seven or eight inches – large enough to threaten other newts.  Do not mix them with other species.

Longevity.  Wild specimens live 12 to 15 years.  Captive specimens live longer (no predators to eat them).  

LA
This determined little escaper climbed out during a water change.

Escapers.  Like most newts, gold belly newts use their sticky bellies to shinny up their glass walls and waddle to freedom.  They take longer to dry out, but will eventually desiccate in your house.  Keep yours covered.

Temperature.  Since they come from the hilly/mountainous parts of California (not the beach), gold belly newts prefer cooler temperatures – like most newts and salamanders.

LA
Nice bright bellies.  Warning Will Robinson.

Environment.  Gold belly newts are not aquatic newts like the red-belly and Eastern newts.  Think of them as California’s version of our Iowa tiger salamanders.  They need mostly land.  An easily accessible water dish will fill their moisture needs.  They want a terrarium -- not a fish tank.  And you can decorate it however you want it to look.  Remember, tho, if you provide lots of hiding places, you will not see your newt.

LA

Predators.  In the wild, about the only critters that can stand to eat them are raccoons, crayfish, and some specially adapted garter snakes.

Skin Toxin.  Hardly anything will eat gold belly newts because they are poisonous.  Their skin exudes tetradotoxin –a nasty tasting poison supposedly capable of killing humans.  Next time you’re on Fear Factor, just say “No” to tetradotoxin.  If you handle a gold belly newt, wash your hands carefully afterward.  That toxin will burn your lips, your eyes, and any small cuts on your hands.

Foods.  Not considered picky by some, gold belly newts will not eat commercial newt foods.  They insist on worms, brine shrimps, small fish, crickets, or other similar live foods.

 

Captivity Threats.  Gold belly newts will most likely succumb to dirty cages and/or overeating – possibly the same cause.  Second biggest threat in captivity is escaping and drying out.

LA
Obviously a female gold belly newt or an out-of-season male.

LA
Even more obvious egg-filled female golden newt.

Sexing Newts.  Male gold belly newts in breeding condition develop those typical lumps between their back legs and their tail.  Females look like the one in the above photo.

LA
Gold belly newts tend to pile up at breeding time.

Breeding.  After coming out of the woods and jumping into their breeding pools, the males develop a smoother skin.  They also develop those lumps around their back legs.  They take turns playing life guard until the babes show up.  Then they get down to serious seduction.  Bunches of them will get into amplexus in close proximity.  Females will lay typical salamander snotty blobs of eggs with that secret tetradotoxin ingredient for protection.

LA
Remember, don't handle your gold belly newts unless absolutely necessary.

LA
Top side.

LA
The more, the merrier.

Last Word.  You don’t need a heater to keep these cute little rascals.  Gold belly newts have very minimal needs.  LA

© 2005, © 2006 LA Productions

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