Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens
Rafinesque originally described the Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens and the Peninsula Newt Notophthalmus viridescens piaropicola in 1820. Since that time, two other subspecies of the genus Notophthalmus have been described. For the sake of completeness, they are the Central Newt Notophthalmus viridescens louisianensis, which was originally described by Wolterstorff in 1914 and the Broken Stripe Newt Notophthalmus viridescens dorsalis as described by Harlan in 1828[i].my purposes within this blog, however I am focusing on the Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens.
The Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens as you might imagine has reddish orange spots which number anywhere from three to eight and are located on the dorsum, and are encircled in black. Most of the ones I have seen and cared for have an olive ground color. This is also in itself covered in smaller black dots like someone literally peppered them with Black Pepper, which cover the dorsum and ventral areas as well as the limbs. The babies or Efts as they are properly known are an amazing red color with the same reddish spots outlined in black. Adults measure almost 4 ½” in total length. They are found on the Eastern coast of the United States and Southeastern Canada.
The Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens is can be housed with others of its own kind. There are other species which are combative and not suitable to live with one another. We recommend no more than three adults in a 15-gallon fish tank measuring 20 ¼” by 10 ½ by 18 ¾”. As with any enclosure that has an open top, we would highly recommend that you also purchase a screen top for the enclosure, which fits snugly and can be clipped in place. The reason for using a fish tank rather than a reptile terrarium is that reptile products generally speaking are not designed to hold water.
Red-spotted Newts Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens should be kept in anywhere from 6” to 12” inches of water. As mentioned, earlier in the overview I highly recommend that you use reverse osmosis water instead of just de-chlorinated. Natural colored aquarium gravel is an excellent substrate, which I have used when wanting a more natural tank. Natural meaning I used live plants to enhance the enclosure, which will be, covered more in depth in the décor section for this species. Red Efts or baby Red-spotted Newts should be kept on a forest floor type of bedding until they reach sexual maturity. Red Efts are harder to take care of and therefore are not covered within this Blog.
When it comes to decorating the enclosure of the Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens it really is more about the plants than anything else. I have always placed at least one or two tethered pieces of cork bark with our enclosures. You can do this or use floating turtle islands as well. To tether pieces of cork bark we use a piece of monofilament fishing line tied or use aquarium silicone to attach it to the bark. At the other end, we use a regular led weight typically meant for fishing and this keeps the bark from floating all over the tank.
Any kind of freshwater aquarium plants (see plant index for specifics) can be added to the gravel. These will also help filter out toxins, which can build up. Larger rocks and other pieces of aquarium safe driftwood can be used as well. These would lead from the gravel up to and breaking the surface of the water. These pieces would represent a more natural environment to the Newts.
When attempting to light this species we use a tropical fish fluorescent bulb suited for plants. This does not seem to disturb the Newts at all. However, I must caution against using a high output incandescent light (see overview on Lighting) as this will heat the aquarium as well and may end up stressing out the Newts. It is not known whether or not the Newts require exposure to UVB. All that I have kept have shown no preference or ill health when not kept with UVB exposure so we would presume this is not a necessity to this species.
The water temperature for this particular species should be maintained anywhere between 60 to 74˚ F during the spring and summer months. During the fall and winter months, however we generally reduce this to 40 or 50˚F.
The type of filter that I recommend is a submersible type. These are sold generally as a Turtle filter but have worked when keeping all types of aquatic amphibians. With the Red-spotted Newt Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens I recommend that you turn the flow down or at least partially block the flow if it is not adjustable. This will keep the Newts from being blown around the aquarium. They seem to enjoy a smaller flow of water and exhibit a more natural behavior with this rather than a fast flow which would be more apt to other types of Newts and Salamanders. Make sure to clean the filter itself about every week or two weeks.