The Eastern Newt is one of the most widely occurring newt species in North America. Residing in small lakes, marshes, and ponds, they can easily adjust to the environmental circumstances that are found in this part of the world. There are four main recognized subspecies of the Eastern Newt, namely Red-spotted newt (N. v. viridescens), Central newt (N. v. louisianensis), Broken-striped newt (N. v. dorsalis) and Peninsula newt (N. v. piaropicola). While each of these subspecies may have well-defined areas of their own, they are more or less easily spotted in most regions of USA and Canada. It has also fund substantial demand in the pet market.
Here is a basic description of the adult eastern newt.
Color: The color of the adult newt may vary depending on the sex and age of the specimen. Their dorsal halves may range between greenish-brown and yellowish-brown. They also have numerous red spots with black borders. The ventral side of the newt is characterized by an orange or yellow coloration along with black spots that evenly speckle the belly.
Skin: The skin of the newt is somewhat moist without being too slippery. They have dry and rough scale-less skin as well as indistinct coastal grooves.
Length: Its size is typically small. They have an approximate length between 2 to 4 inches.
Sexual dimorphism: During breeding season, the males typically have enlarged hind legs and black
horny structures that develop on the inner parts of their toe tips and thighs that can be used for firmly gripping the females during the time of mating. They also have broadly keeled tails and swollen vents.
Species: N. viridescens
Scientific Name:Notophthalmus viridescens
The eastern newt is one of the only few species belonging to the Salamandridae Family that is native to various regions of North America.
The four subspecies of eastern newt are found extensively in Canada and the United States. In Canada, they can be easily spotted in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Québec, and Ontario. The Eastern Newt Ontario specimens always enjoy a lot of demand in the pet market. Some of the states in US where they can be easily seen include Missouri, Michigan, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, New York, New Hampshire, Georgia, Delaware, Arkansas, Mississippi, Minnesota, Maryland, Maine, Kansas, Indiana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, West Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Illinois, Florida, Connecticut, Alabama and others.
It can be found mostly in coniferous and deciduous forests. Both adult newts and immature larvae live in small freshwater bodies like marshes, ponds, ditches and small lakes that generally have got muddy bottoms.
The adults can conveniently survive on the land in case their aquatic habitats become rather unsuitable. Usually the adults move onto the surface of the land in dry months when water gets low. They may also choose to do so while trying to get rid of ectoparasites from their bodies. Eft stage juveniles live in woodland habitats and lakeshores and can be seen frequently in the forest litter during rainy nights.
The aquatic larvae typically consume small invertebrates such as snails, water fleas and beetle larvae.
The diet of the terrestrial efts mostly consists of small invertebrates that can be found in leaf litter and humus, such as springtails, snails and soil mites. Adult newts mainly eat midge larva as well as other insects in their aquatic immature stages. Typically the adults do not have any specialized diet and tend to eat any type of small invertebrate species that they can spot. They limit their diet to small mollusks, insects, crustaceans, worms, young amphibians, and frog eggs.
These are the main behavioral trends of eastern newts
• The eastern newt moves very quickly in water and even though it is an amphibian, it is usually rather slow on the land surface.
• The larvae of the eastern newt are quite sedentary and they prefer to settle at the bottom section of the ponds or other bodies to hide.
• Typically these newts tend to segregate according to their sizes while on water. This serves as an excellent defense against the larger adults that exhibit cannibalistic traits.
• The efts are mainly nocturnal in nature and are usually most active during rainy nights.
• During dry and sunny weather, these efts choose a moist and cool place to rest. They go for feeding in damp and dark weather.
• The adult newts usually remain in the water and forage in both night and day.
• The newts spent the winter months underground. They may also forage in winter while remaining beneath the ice.
• The eastern newts depend on visual and chemical cues for finding food.
Predators of eastern newt include mammals, birds, fishes, and other types of amphibians. They can also be threatened by leeches.
These are the main adaptations of eastern newt.
• The eastern newt protects itself from predators through a process known as aposematism which involves using color as a form of warning signal to repel predators from possibly attacking the newt.
• The poisonous chemicals in their skin may deter predators.
• Eastern newts make use of a homing technique with the help of magnetic orientation. They have a highly developed magnetoreception system that works as a combination of sun-dependent compass and polarity-based inclination.
• They make use of visual and chemical cues to hunt for food.
The breeding season starts during the late winter and then continues till the early spring.
During the mating season, the female newt becomes heavy with eggs. For this reason, it actively tries to find a male. Courtship for the eastern newts involves an amplexus. The females get attracted by male’s spots. The male makes a fanning motion by moving and wiggling its tail, thus releasing a pheromone which creates an enticing odor. The male newt then positions itself just forward and above the female, uses its hindlimbs to grip the sides of the female just behind the forelegs and then rubs her snout using the side of the head. The males then deliver a sperm packet right at the bottom of the water which is picked up by the female with the cloaca. The female uses the sperm for fertilizing her eggs.
Sexual competition between males is frequent. However, rival males trying to interfere with a pair that is already involved in the amplexus hardly ever succeed in doing so. The rival male sometimes drops his own sperm packet close by so that the female might pick it up once she is done with the courtship process with the active male. In some cases, even male-to-male courtship can also be found. The males eat sperm packets dropped by the other male in this case.
The female newt may take up anywhere between a day and a week to deposit all the eggs. The eggs get attached to some vegetation or any other aquatic object. At this stage, many eggs are lost due to predation.
The larvae are hatched after an incubation period of 3 to 8 weeks. The Eastern Newt larvae
attain a size of about 1 inch to 1.5 inch and become efts by the late summer. The efts typically live on the surface of the land for about 1 to 3 years. Once they reach maturity, the adults return to the water for the remaining of their lives. The males and females take about 2000 days to reach sexual maturity.
The aquatic larvae usually have got laterally compressed tails, feathery gills, and olive colored skin. They also have very smooth skin without any toxicity. The efts have a reddish-orange coloration along with 2 rows of red spots with black borders. They also have well-developed limbs, lungs, and eyelids. The skin of the eft is rough and dry which along with its color is an indication of its toxicity. Efts have a long and slender body that ends in a lateral and flattened tail.
Life span for eastern newts in the wild is approximately 12- 15 years. Mortality rate is generally very high for the Eastern Newt eggs and larvae.
Eastern newts are chosen as pets by many people, which is why there is always a strong demand for them in the commercial pet market. Plenty of people are actively involved in business that offers Eastern Newt for sale.They are also sometimes kept for purely research purposes. It is important that you know everything there is to know about their pet care.
Firstly, arrange for a large 10-gallon aquarium that can house u-p to 3 adult newts. Pour dechlorinated water in it to fill it up halfway and then use a screen lid for covering it in order to offer sufficient ventilation. Use a filter to provide with good water quality. It is important that you replace around 20% of water on a weekly basis.
You should also maintain a haul-out area. You can create one with driftwood and cork bark or by using basking platforms. Live plants or plastic plants can help in creating aquatic hiding places. You should also create a submerged cave with a clay pot or some other type of heavy hiding spot. Proper Eastern Newt care should be given to ensure their healthy growth.
Water temperatures must be maintained between 60° and 70° Fahrenheit.
These newts are mostly carnivorous and they should be fed frozen or live brine shrimps, red worms, commercial amphibian diets, and earthworms.
Eastern newt has been classified as a species of “Least Concern” by IUCN. However, it is important to note that populations of eastern newts are often threatened by diseases that are caused by bacteria, viruses and fungi, triggered by numerous environmental problems like pollution. Other factors that cause depleted populations include deforestation and acid precipitation.
There are some interesting fun facts about the eastern newts.
• The eastern newts are highly valued as commercial aquarium pets.
• The striking coloration of these newts is a sign of their toxicity.
• Eastern newts have ferromagnetic material like biogenic magnetite in their bodies which they use for magnetic homing purposes.
• They can help in bringing down the number of mosquitoes in the environment.
• The eastern newt can produce a chemical called tetrodotoxin that makes it unpalatable to crayfish and numerous other predatory fishes.
Here are some of the images of eastern newt.
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