Chinese Fire-bellied Newt
- Family: Salamandridae
- Adult Size: Adults range from 2 to 4 inches in length.
- Range: East-central China.
- Habitat: Chinese fire-bellied newts are usually found in still waters with plenty of vegetation in which to hide.
- Captive Lifespan: 12 to 20 Years
- Care Level: Beginner
Chinese fire-bellied newts have a black dorsum and a brightly colored orange or red belly, hence the common name. They have less obvious parotid glands than the similar Japanese fire-bellied newt (Cynops pyrrhogaster). Care should be taken to wash one’s hands after handling this species.
The Chinese fire-bellied newt is primarily aquatic, but it is important to incorporate a terrestrial area into the captive environment as well. A 20 gallon aquarium will be enough room for up to four newts. Spring water or dechlorinated tap water should be used to fill the aquatic portion of the enclosure. Make sure to include a filter in the cage design, as it will help to maintain water quality. It is also beneficial to have aquatic plants in which the newts can conceal themselves. Java moss or Java fern will do well in an enclosure housing these newts. Chinese fire-bellied newts prefer lower temperatures, 68 degrees Fahrenheit or slightly less being ideal. As with many species of amphibians, higher temperatures will stress these newts, and may result in bacterial infections. An amphibian that spends an abnormally high percentage of the time on land may be sick and should be monitored carefully. This may also indicate that the water is too warm, or that it has become too dirty for the newts' liking.
The diet for Chinese fire-bellied newts should be comprised of both animal and plant food items. Bloodworms work very well as a food item. They will also feed on guppies, earthworms, brine shrimp and even freeze-dried tubifex worms. Feeding these newts three times weekly should suffice.
Because of their ease of care, these newts are a great beginner species. Few problems should be encountered with this hardy species, especially if care is given to provide the newts with a clean environment.