GIANT RIBBED NEWTS: THE IDEAL AQUARIUM PET
EASY TO KEEP
EASY TO FEED
ENTERTAINING AQUARIUM ANIMALS
WHAT ARE GIANT RIBBED NEWTS ?
Giant ribbed newts (Pleurodeles waltli) are the largest of the newts, reaching lengths of 7 to 12 inches, with reports of some individuals growing to a larger size. Other common names are Iberian ribbed newt, ribbed newt, and sharp-ribbed newt.
Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and Gibraltar
THE BEST PET NEWT
Unlike many newts, which have a terrestrial stage when they remain concealed most of the time and an aquatic stage, giant ribbed newts are primarily aquatic and can be kept in aquariums like fish.
Because of their size they are also the most impressive of the newts. As captives, they are the hardiest of the newts, being tolerant of a wide range of temperatures and more heat tolerant than most newts sold in the pet trade
Most newts sold in the pet trade have toxic skin secretions, including red spotted, fire-bellied, and Hong Kong newts. Ribbed newts also have toxic skin secretions. If grabbed very hard, their ribs will penetrate through the skin wall to superficially inject toxins in the mouth of a predator leading to release. If placed in the mouth, ribbed newts have irritating skin secretions that will usually cause mamals and birds to release them or vomit them. Compared to other newts sold in the pet trade, ribbed newts rank among the safest. There is no record of serious illness or fatality (unlike some of the Asian newts commonly offered in the pet trade). We have found one hobbyist report of an individual squeezing a ribbed newt too hard. The ribs penetrated the hand. It initially hurt like a bee sting and produced a lingering burning sensation for a few days.
We have handled hundreds of ribbed and have never been stung. These are aquarium animals so, as with fish (many sold in the trade are toxic and have nasty dorsal spines), there is no reason to handle them.
As we stated earlier, these are the best of the pet newts.
CAPTIVE-BRED, SO GOOD FOR ANIMAL WELFARE
The great majority of wild-collected newts imported for the pet trade, such as fire-bellied newts and other species from Asia (paddle-tailed, Hong Kong and others) suffer high losses during shipping and within the first two months in captivity. Some species, such as paddle-tailed newts, will mutilate each other when kept in large groups. Because of the conditions under which they are kept prior to export many are thin and may be diseased. Their collection is uncontrolled and the populations unmanaged, such that little is known of the impact of large scale collection for the international pet trade.
Because giant ribbed newts are commercially bred and because they are hardy they are an ideal species for the pet trade and for beginning hobbyists.
Wild populations of giant ribbed newts are declining and the species is currently listed by IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature ) as Near Threatened. Loss and deterioration of habitat are the primary cause of decline along with introduced fish and red crayfish (Procambarus clarki) which are predators of larvae.
Because ribbed newts offered in the pet trade are captive-bred, their trade has no impact on wild populations.
LOW INVASION RISK
There is concern with any non-native species of its potential to become invasive. Worth noting is that although bred and widely used for biological research for more than a half century, the giant ribbed newt has not been introduced in Europe beyond its initial range. Many factors make the giant ribbed newt a low risk species in terms of potential for invasion.
-The larvae require relatively high temperatures for successful development.
-Fish, crayfish ( not present in habitat) and other species will eat the larvae.
-Pet owners will not release these newts. Because they are easy and inexpensive to maintain owners do not find them a problem species and become enamored with them as display animals (unlike red-eared sliders which grow too large and are too expensive to maintain).
- Ribbed newts are impressive and fish and reptile stores will readily accept unwanted pets.
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