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Do Salamanders & Newts Make Good Pets? What You Need to Know!

Oliver Jones

Newts and salamanders make great pets and are popular worldwide. They are relatively easy to care for and don’t require a large aquarium. However, while salamanders and newt may look similar, they are two different animals with slightly different needs. Keep reading while we take a quick look and the difference between the salamander and the newt to see if we can learn some interesting facts. We’ll check out several examples of each so you can see what kind you want to have in your tank.

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What’s The Difference Between Newt And Salamander?

Newt

Newt
Image Credit: Kathy2408, Pixabay

The newt and salamander are both amphibians that look similar to a reptile but have soft, smooth skin. Newts are aquatic animals that can also live on land. It has webbed feet and a powerful tail it uses for swimming.  Its head resembles a frog, and it has tiny teeth. It has dry, bumpy skin, gills, and the ability to regenerate body parts, including its eyes. Some newt species can do this up to 18 times. Newts are small, but their bodies secret a toxin that protects them from most predators.


Salamander

Red Salamander
Image Credit: Nashepard, Shutterstock

Salamanders have the same body style as a newt, but their skin is usually soft and smooth, often with bright coloring.

They can get quite large, with some breeds exceeding 4 feet in length. Its head is shaped more like a snake than a frog, and, like a newt, it can regenerate its body parts. Salamanders will detach their tail if a predator is chasing them. Their body also produces a toxin that protects them from predators. Salamanders like to live in water, but you can also find them on land in wet areas. Like the tiger salamander, some species prefer to dig in the dirt and have no webbing on their feet.

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Can Newts And Salamanders Live Together?

Newts are technically salamanders, though not all salamanders are newts. There are also several hundred species of both, and many of them can live together peacefully. However, most experts recommend keeping the most popular breeds we keep as pets separate. Both animals secrete toxins that can be harmful to the other, and salamanders, often the much larger of the two, can put the newt in danger if the salamander were to become aggressive. Some salamander and newt species are cannibalistic, and one might eat the other if they see an injury or other sign of weakness. Even pets that lived in the same cage for months can turn on each other, so it’s best to house them separately or only keep one type.


Pet Newt Breeds

Here are some breeds of newt you can purchase to keep in your home.

Fire-Belly Newt

Fire bellied newt
Image Credit: Bluestones, Pixabay

Fire belly newts come from China and Japan. They get their name from their bright orange or yellow underside. They are usually about 5 inches long as adults and can live up to 20 years if you properly take care of them. You’ll need a 20-gallon enclosure and a semi-aquatic environment. Water needs to be below 75 degrees Fahrenheit with room temperature water (68–70 degrees F) producing the best results. They eat mostly worms and shrimp, and the only downside is that you can’t handle them due to the toxin they excrete.

  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Enclosure: 20-gallon semi-aquatic

Eastern Newt

Eastern Newt
Image Credit: lakewooducc, Pixabay

The eastern newt is common in North America, and it shouldn’t be difficult to find one at your local pet store or even in the wild by a river or stream. It usually lives 12–15 years. It’s commonly bright orange with red spots outlined in black as a juvenile, and you will see them on land during this phase. As an adult, it sticks to the water and will have olive-green skin. They will require a 10-gallon semi-aquatic tank as juveniles that you will convert to an aquatic tank when they become adults.

  • Lifespan: 12–15 years
  • Enclosure: 10-gallon semi-aquatic and fully aquatic

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Pet Salamander Breeds

If you are looking to purchase a salamander, you may want to look for one of these breeds.

Axolotl

axolotl
Image Credit: Tinwe, Pixabay

Some pet stores will refer to the axolotl as a Mexican walking fish, though it is not a fish. It’s one of the only amphibians that does not need to undergo a metamorphosis to become an adult. Unfortunately, its numbers are rapidly declining due to habitat destruction in Mexico, and many conservation agencies have it listed as critically in danger of becoming extinct. It can grow up to 18 inches long but will only require an aquarium size of 10 gallons, though bigger is better. It should live about 20 years.

  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Enclosure: 10-gallon aquatic

Tiger Salamander

Eastern Tiger Salamander
Image Credit: Peter Paplanus from St. Louis, Missouri, Wikimedia Commons

The tiger salamander is one of the most popular choices for a pet due to its bright colors and enormous size. It has markings of different colors over the body and tail, and it usually grows 6–8 inches but can be as large as 13 inches. It has the longest lifespan on our list and can often be 25 years old. Due to its size and habitat, it will require a 20-gallon semi-aquatic aquarium. Because they are so popular, it’s usually easy to find them at a pet store, but you can also find them in the wild if you have a sharp eye and know where to look.

  • Lifespan: 25 years
  • Enclosure: 12-gallon semi-aquatic

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Summary

Salamanders and newts make great pets that will keep you company for 20 years or more. They don’t require a large aquarium and are relatively easy to care for, especially since you don’t need to worry about heating the tank. You can purchase it inexpensively or go on a hiking trip along a river or stream and find one. It will be easy to find an eastern newt anywhere in the Eastern United States, which is where you will also find the elusive tiger salamander.

We hope you have enjoyed reading and have learned some new facts about these amazing creatures. If you’ve chosen one to get for your home, please share this discussion about if salamanders and newts make good pets on Facebook and Twitter.


Featured Image: Kathy2408, Pixabay

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.