Wild Fact #375 – Identity Theft – Chinese Fire Belly Newt

Chinese Fire Belly Newt

Photo from Wikimedia

I was absolutely shocked when I realized that our list of Wild Facts does not contain a single Newt. I don’t know how I have neglected these cute, little, aquatic salamanders for so long but I will make it up to them this week. Yes, since I was so inconsiderate to the Newt’s feelings, I am going to devote this entire week to aquatic salamanders. It is important to note that not all aquatic salamanders are Newts but all Newts are aquatic salamanders. We are going to kick off our amphibious week by heading to China to explore the life of the Chinese Fire Belly Newt.

Mistaken Identity

The Fire Belly Newt is a small salamander with a length ranging between 6 and 10 cm (2.2 – 4″). They are typically dark brown or black in colour but have a beautiful orange, or red belly (hence the name). This belly does make them easier to identify but it is important to note that they are not the only newt’s in the world to have this fashionable feature. In fact, the Chinese Fire Belly Newt is often mistaken for their similar looking cousin, the Japanese Fire Belly Newt – which you will often see in pet stores around the world.  I am still not sure how this mistake happens considering the Chinese Fire Belly Newt has relatively smooth skin and a rounded tail while their Japanese cousin has rough skin and a pointed tail. Chinese Fire Belly Newt

Do Not Eat……Obviously

Did you know that the Chinese Fire Belly Newt is actually poisonous? Yep, they are capable of excreting a toxic substance through the pores on their skin. The good news is this excretion is fairly harmless to humans, unless you eat the entire Newt. My recommendation is to wash your hands after handling the Chinese Fire Belly Newt. Oh and please don’t eat these Newts as their toxins will become more dangerous in large quantities. Now that I have scared you from ever wanting to own one of these as a pet, I should tell you that they are fairly common and nobody on record has ever died at the hands of the Chinese Fire Belly Newt, but I still don’t recommend eating them :).

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