Important Things to Know About Fire Belly Newt

By Sviat Oleksiv | Updated on July 24, 2021

Important Things to Know About Fire Belly Newt

If you’re looking for your first amphibian pet and everyone is telling you to get a gecko – take a look at the fire belly newt too while you’re at it. These small eastern lizards are both very popular among reptile pet owners and are exceptionally beautiful. What’s more, they are quite easy to take care of too!

Named after the gorgeous red coloring on their bellies, these beauties are a great addition to most homes. So, what exactly should you research and prepare before getting a fire belly newt? Here are our suggestions for the 20 pivotal things to know about the fire belly newt.

The 12 key things to consider before getting a Fire Belly Newt pet

  1. These small lizards are also often called oriental fire belly newt and it comes in two basic variants – the Chinese and the Japanese fire belly newt. Both are very similar in their characteristics and needs so we’ll talk about both at once. As they come from the Far East, these amphibians are used to low and middle elevation climates close to slow-moving bodies of water. This is important to note as it gives us an idea as to what habitat these little newts need to thrive.

  2. So, what’s the personality of these amphibians? Fortunately, it’s very friendly and docile as these little guys really aren’t overly aggressive and hostile. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that they are easy to handle as we’ll discuss next.

  3. Handleability is one of the few areas where the fire belly newt really does not excel. That’s because, like most other newts, this amphibian produces a tetrodotoxin through its skin that can be unpleasant to deal with. Thankfully, these newts aren’t nearly as poisonous as other members of their family which Is why they are still recommended as pets. Many other newts, however, really aren’t recommended as pets .

So, how should you handle a fire belly newt? Ideally, you shouldn’t handle this lizard at all – fire bellies are strictly for observing, not for touching. If you do have to handle your fire belly, make sure that you don’t have any open sores or wounds on your skin. That’s because the fire belly’s tetrodotoxin doesn’t get absorbed through human skin but can enter through wounds and other openings.
So – always keep the fire belly away from your face, wear gloves if you have sores or wounds, and always wash your hands after handling the newt or tinkering with its tank. Should a bit of the toxin enter your toxin – don’t worry. It’s not that potent and it will likely only cause a bit of irritation, nausea, and slight pain.
These newts’ poison is only dangerous in huge quantities which can happen if you actively try to ingest the newt. But why on Earth would you do that?

  1. Is the fire belly newt recommended if you have kids or other pets? Because of the tetrodotoxin from the previous point, it’s usually not recommended to get this lizard if you have small kids. If your child is old/smart enough for you to teach him/her not to handle the newt – that’s good. If not, it’s better to get a different pet.
    As for other pets such as cats and dogs – if you’re 100% sure that they won’t open, push over, or break the newt’s tank, then there shouldn’t be a problem.

  2. The hardiness of these lizards is really commendable. Their average lifespan is usually listed as 10 to 15 years but that’s typically due to poor care – it’s not that uncommon for these lizards to live up to 30 years! That’s because with the right care and maintenance, these oriental newts can be very healthy.

  3. Fire bellies are pretty affordable too – you’d have to try to find a newt that costs more than $20 as most cost even less than that. That’s because they are easily bred in captivity.

  4. Unlike most other common reptile pets, newts are neither arboreal nor terrestrial – they are aquatic! So, while they aren’t big climbers, they are excellent swimmers and will need a literal pool in their tank to feel good. We’ll cover the precise housing requirements below.

  5. These newts are nocturnal too and can be quite active and loud when they are awake. This means two main things for you – 1) get ready for nightly feedings and 2) don’t put the newts’ aquarium in your bedroom if you are a light sleeper.

  6. Fire bellies are able to detach their tails when they feel threatened and they will eventually grow a new one too. Still, there’s no reason for domestic newts to ever feel threatened, however, so

  7. Fire belly newts aren’t particularly big and tend to grow up to 3-5 inches long (7.5 to 12.5 cm). Some can get even longer but that’s not too common.

  8. One of the cool aspects of fire belly newts is that they are so docile, friendly, and non-territorial that you can look after more than one in an aquarium. The maximum number is really up to you as long as you can offer them enough living space.
    Naturally, if you want to house males and females in the same tank you can expect them to start mating pretty soon. If you’re up for the challenge you can even start growing and selling small newts. If you don’t want to bother, just don’t house newts of opposite genders together. If you’re curious about the mating & raising process, here’s a good video guide.

  9. How can you figure out if this pet is right for you? Easy – just answer the following questions for yourself:

  • Do I have space and resources for a large aquarium half-filled with water in my home?

  • Are my kids big enough for me to explain to them not to touch the newts?

  • Are my other pets going to be safe for/from the newts?

If the answers are yes, then the fire newt may well be a great per for you.

How can you prepare for a Fire Belly Newt? 4 important tips

  1. We recommend getting a 20-gallon tank for fire belly newts. Such a tank can house up to 4 or 5 newts. A smaller tank can be sufficient for just 1-2 newts but they’ll be happier in a larger space.

  2. The tank should be full of water as these newts are aquatic. However, they also need dry land to rest on so there should be plenty of land area too. Here’s a good video on fire newts’ aquariums arrangement.

  3. In terms of lighting, newts need a 12/12-hour day & night cycle. The tank shouldn’t be in direct sunlight but standard daylight room ambiance light will suffice during the day. You may need artificial light in the winter, however.
    As for UV – that’s not necessary but a fluorescent light may be needed for the aquarium’s plants.

  4. 62 to 68o F is the right temperature range for these amphibians (17 to 20o C). Using a fan or a source of melting dechlorinated ice are good ways to maintain these temperatures. Remember to put a thermometer inside the tank too.

Vital 4 points for successfully looking after a Fire Belly Newt pet

  1. Either frozen or live bloodworms are the preferred food of fire belly newts. Chopped-up earthworms, glass shrimp, brine shrimp, Tubifex cubes (chopped-up), and daphnia are other good alternatives. One feeding every 2-3 days is usually a good schedule.

  2. Maintaining the newts’ water quality is the other crucial part of properly taking care of them. Almost all of the few possible health conditions they can develop come from dirty water. Prepping up the tank with a good filtration system is a must as is replacing a third of the tank’s water once every week or so. This can sound like a lot of work but it really isn’t once you get the hang of it.

  3. Contrary to popular belief, newts do shed their skin. The reason some people think newts don’t shed is that their shedding is very thin and unnoticeable, and tends to dissolve in the water. Plus, they often eat it too. If you want to see a video of a fire belly newt shedding, check out this one.

  4. Find a good vet who specializes in exotic pets near you. Standard vets rarely have experience with amhpibians. Hopefully, you won’t need a vet’s services but certain infections are possible if the aquarium’s water hasn’t been filtrated properly for some time.

So, does the fire belly newt sound like a good option for you and your home? Or, would you say that we’ve missed mentioning something? If you have any questions or feedback we’d be happy to hear them! And, if you decide to get a fire belly newt we wish you lots of great experiences looking after these little beauties!