The eastern newt is a type of red spotted newt that is native to the eastern United States. This newt is a popular pet because it is easy to care for compared to some other newts.
In the wild, these amphibians eat insects, small fish, crustaceans, and even frog eggs. Besides commercial food, in captivity, the eastern newt will enjoy a similar diet to its wild cousin, eating frozen brine shrimp, red worms, and more.
Read on to see what these aquatic amphibians would eat in the wild and how you can best replicate this diet for your pet.
About Eastern Newts
Please note that newts are not safe pets for children, as they secrete a toxin on their skin to deter predators. Always check local regulations and laws before adopting an exotic pet. In some jurisdictions, a permit might be required in order to keep newts as pets. In other jurisdictions, it might be against the law to adopt them.
Wildlife organizations strongly discourage keeping newts or other salamanders as pets, as they do not do well in captivity. The content in this article is for informational purposes only. At PetKeen, we do not encourage adopting newts. In addition, we do not encourage capturing wild animals, as this disrupts local ecosystems.[/su_list]
The eastern newt is one of more than 650 breeds of salamander. Salamanders have short legs, long bodies, and a tail. Most species metamorphose from an aquatic youngster to a land-dwelling adult. The eastern red-spotted newt undergoes a similar transformation but will grow to become an aquatic adult and adapt to its environment to survive. If its water source dries up, the eastern newt can revert to an eft (juvenile) state and live on land.
Eastern newts live in ponds and near water sources. They are hunted by large fish, some mammals, snakes, and birds, and other water-dwelling amphibians.
What They Eat in the Wild
As larvae, newts consume aquatic macroinvertebrates. As efts, they consume insects, spiders, worms, tiny mollusks, and mites. As adults, they eat insects, leeches, mollusks, crustaceans, small amphibians, and fish.
Eastern Newts as Pets
Popular as pets, eastern newts do not require a lot of space and are easy to care for. A 20-gallon tank is large enough to house a mature newt. It is not advised to keep multiple newts together because they can reproduce quite easily.
Use bark, add platforms, and incorporate floating plants for variety and to offer somewhere to rest. The bottom of the tank should be lined with smooth gravel. The gravel pieces need to be large enough that your newt doesn’t think that they’re swallow-worthy snacks.
Water quality is very important because newts essentially ingest water through their skin. The water pH should be about neutral, and you will need to test the levels regularly.
What They Eat in Captivity
Newts can thrive on a commercial diet. Pellets are convenient and they are readily available, which makes them popular with owners as well as their amphibian pets. They are especially popular with those owners that do not want to handle live insects. Freeze-dried shrimp are a good staple food source and you can incorporate bloodworms and some other frozen insects into their daily feed too. Live food options include earthworms, blackworms, and even some small crickets.
Eastern Newt Care Tips
You need to take care when handling newts. They have a protective layer on top of their skin and regular handling can strip this layer down, leaving them prone to injury and irritation. They also emit a toxin and while this should be safe if it gets on your hands, if you have cuts or you do not wash your hands properly after handling, it could get into the bloodstream. Eastern Newts are not known to be very toxic, however.
It is possible to tame Eastern Newts and food is the key. It will work especially well with live insects. Never withhold food if your newt refuses to take it from you, but encourage it to take food from your fingers using its favorite snack treat.
Enclosures need to contain two-thirds water and one-third land for adult Eastern Newts. The water can be kept at room temperature but your Eastern is likely to prefer it a little colder. 65°F is ideal with temperatures over 75°F potentially weakening the immune system, and temperatures below 50°F encouraging reproduction.
What to Do If Your Newt Isn’t Eating
Newts tend to be good eaters, and since eastern newts are happy eating commercial food pellets, they are considered one of the easier species to care for. However, several things could lower your newt’s appetite. While eastern newts are known to be good at eating commercial pellets, they prefer live foods and sometimes are only encouraged to eat if they are stimulated to hunt.
In the wild, they would eat the crustaceans, small fish, and flies around their water source. In captivity, you should try to replicate this as far as practical. You can feed your pet crickets and other live insects, and frozen food like brawn shrimp, and once your newt accepts the frozen food, you can even try a commercial food pellet diet.
- What Do Newts Eat in the Wild and as Pets? Vet-Approved Feeding Guide
- Do Salamanders & Newts Make Good Pets? Vet-Approved Facts & Information
Featured Image Credit by Brandon Alms, Shutterstock