The Red spotted newt, also known as the Eastern Newt, is one of two known types of salamander in the United States. In addition it’s a low maintenance newt for anyone that would like to have one as a pet. This little creature got its name from those gorgeous red spots on their backs that are outlined in black. The red spotted newt has a very interesting cycle of life, and much like us as humans is referred to as a juvenile until they grow into an adult. Here are a few fun facts about these little amphibians.
The red spotted newt comes into the world as what is termed as an “aquatic larvae”. This term essentially means that when they are born, they are born into water. According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, most amphibians are born in ponds or small pools of water. The eggs can be randomly dispersed as the mother is traveling, so she could potentially drop a cluster of eggs into a pond and where it ends up, it ends up. While the mom may stay close by the eggs, she will start to give her little ones space as they emerge on their own. Typically they release their eggs in late spring, but water temperature will help determine when they are able to hatch. The eggs may be underwater late into the summer. At this stage, the newt is usually an olive or more neutral color.
The second phase of their growth labels newts as “terrestrial efts”, and as it grows it starts to turn more of the orange color. The spots begin to show up, and they can have as many as 21 spots to be exact. During this stage the red spotted newt may travel through several ponds or bodies of water where they begin to “settle down”, and they become adults. As they change color again they continue to showcase their red spots giving a fascinating contrast in color.
The Red spotted newt loves a moist environment, so you might see them in the forest after a good rain or thunderstorm. They love mud, so if you want to get close take your worst pair of shoes. Be cautious of the fact too that you don’t really want to handle an amphibian, especially the Red spotted newt. The color of their skin indicates that they carry many toxins, so their bright color acts as a stop sign to warn you.
If you want to get a few of these guys to keep at home, you may want to just start with a few. They are best being a smaller grouping of two or three at a time, and you will need to look for an aquarium that will hold around ten gallons. You can use an air operated filter and partially dechlorinated water since they don’t need the normal filters to breathe. However, the bacteria that eats away their waste needs to be able to flourish on its own so that you don’t get a buildup of ammonia in your tank. Last but not least, you want to make sure they have a log or a rock that they can get out of the water periodically. Make sure that you do have a lid that fits snugly enough that the newt can’t escape. I would imagine that if this little guy got loose in your house, he might be very difficult to find.
The most interesting fact about the Red spotted newt is that they have a homing device. Imagine if you were lost and you had a built in compass that was guided by the sun. Some scientists believe that the Red spotted newt has a ferromagnetic material in their body called biogenic magnetite. This “magnetite” is a mineral in the iron oxide family, and is one of the strongest magnetic minerals on Earth. It is just a theory that perhaps that is why they are changing colors throughout their stages of metamorphosis.
If you are looking for a change, and want to add some color to your life go get yourself a Red spotted newt. Just make sure you don’t touch it!