Fire Belly Newt: Behavior, Habitat, Care, Health, Feeding & Breeding

The fire belly newt, also known as the red-bellied newt or Cynops pyrrhogaster, is a small amphibian species native to East Asia. It is widely popular among amphibian enthusiasts and is often kept as a pet due to its vibrant colors, active behavior, and relatively easy care requirements. This guide aims to provide comprehensive information about the fire belly newt, including its characteristics, temperament, origin, natural habitat, care, health, diet, breeding, and places where you can find them for sale.


The fire belly newt is a small amphibian, measuring around 2 to 4 inches in length when fully grown. It has a rounded body shape with a mottled black or dark brown back, while its underside features a bright red or orange belly, giving rise to its common names. The skin on their back often has rough texture, while the belly skin is smooth.

One distinctive feature of the fire belly newt is the presence of small black warts or bumps on its back, which secrete a toxin when threatened. This serves as a defense mechanism against predators, warning them that the newt is toxic or unappetizing. However, the toxin is harmless to humans and most other animals, but it is still important to wash your hands thoroughly after handling them.

These newts have relatively short limbs and webbed fingers and toes, which enables them to swim efficiently. They are primarily aquatic, spending considerable time in water, but they also require access to land for rest and basking.

Temperament & Behavior

Fire belly newts are generally docile and peaceful creatures that can be easily handled with proper care. However, they are primarily aquatic and have delicate skin, so it is important to handle them gently and avoid excessive handling to prevent stress and damage to their skin. Like most amphibians, they are not suitable for frequent handling.

These newts are generally active and display interesting behavior, such as swimming, climbing, and basking. They are quite social and can be kept in groups, provided that there is sufficient space and appropriate conditions are maintained. However, it is recommended to keep only one male per enclosure, as they can become territorial and aggressive towards each other.


The fire belly newt is native to East Asia, specifically parts of China, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. It inhabits a variety of freshwater habitats, including streams, ponds, and rice fields. Due to their attractive appearance, they have been introduced to other parts of the world and can now be found in some countries where they are not native.

Natural Habitat

In their natural habitat, fire belly newts prefer shallow, still or slow-moving water bodies with abundant vegetation. They are typically found in areas with dense vegetation cover, including both aquatic and terrestrial plants. They utilize these plants for shelter, breeding, and foraging purposes.

Additionally, they require access to land for resting and basking. They have been observed climbing on rocks or partially submerged wood to bask under heat sources, such as sunlight or artificial lamps. The availability of both aquatic and terrestrial habitats is essential for maintaining their overall health and well-being.


Enclosure Setup

When setting up an enclosure for fire belly newts, there are several key factors to consider:

  • Size: A 10-gallon tank can comfortably house up to three fire belly newts. However, keep in mind that the more newts you have, the larger the enclosure should be to provide ample swimming and basking space.
  • Water: The newts require a fully or partially aquatic environment. It is recommended to provide a water depth of at least 6 inches to allow them to swim freely. Use dechlorinated water, such as filtered or aged tap water, to fill the tank. A gentle water filter can help maintain water quality and prevent the buildup of waste.
  • Land area: Create a land area using rocks, logs, or floating platforms. This allows the newts to rest, bask, and have a dry spot to retreat to if they choose. Ensure that the land area is easily accessible from the water.
  • Plants: Add live aquatic and terrestrial plants to the enclosure. The plants not only provide hiding spots and visual barriers but also help maintain water quality by absorbing excess nutrients and providing oxygen. Suitable aquatic plants include hornwort, water sprite, and Java moss, while ferns and pothos are good choices for terrestrial plants.
  • Substrate: Choose a fine-grained substrate for the aquatic area, such as aquarium gravel or sand. A layer of smooth river rocks or aquarium-safe gravel can be used in the land area.
  • Temperature: Maintain a temperature range of 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the water, while the land area should be slightly cooler. Use a submersible aquarium heater and a thermometer to monitor the water temperature. Provide a heat lamp or ceramic heat emitter above the land area to create a basking spot with a temperature of around 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Humidity: Fire belly newts require a humid environment to keep their skin healthy. Regular misting of the enclosure and the use of a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels can help maintain the required range, which should be around 50 to 70%.

Water Quality & Filtration

Maintaining optimal water quality is vital for the health and well-being of fire belly newts. Poor water conditions can lead to stress, illness, and even death. Here are some tips to ensure good water quality:

  • Use a filtration system to remove toxins and waste from the water. A gentle filter designed for small aquariums or a sponge filter works well for fire belly newt enclosures. Avoid strong currents as they can stress the newts.
  • Perform regular water changes, replacing 25% of the water every week. Use dechlorinated water, and be sure to match the temperature and pH of the fresh water to that of the tank before adding it.
  • Monitor ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate levels regularly using a water testing kit. Ammonia and nitrite should be at zero, while nitrate should be kept below 20 ppm. If levels are elevated, increase water changes and consider adding beneficial bacteria supplements.


Fire belly newts require access to both natural and artificial light sources to maintain their circadian rhythm, thermoregulation, and overall health. Here are some guidelines for lighting:

  • Provide a full spectrum UVB light for 8 to 10 hours a day. UVB helps the newts metabolize calcium and promotes overall well-being. Make sure the UVB light is appropriate for the tank size and replace it every 6 to 12 months, as the UVB output diminishes over time.
  • Place the basking light above the land area to create a temperature gradient within the enclosure. A 12-hour day/night cycle, matching the natural daylight hours, is suitable for fire belly newts.

Health & Diseases

Fire belly newts are generally hardy and resistant to diseases if provided with proper care and suitable living conditions. However, they can still be susceptible to certain health issues. Here are some common health concerns to watch out for:

  • Skin Issues: Fire belly newts can develop skin infections or injuries if kept in dirty or unsanitary conditions. It is crucial to maintain clean water and remove any waste or uneaten food promptly. Ensure that any tank decorations are free of sharp edges that could harm the newts.
  • Fungal Infections: High humidity and poor water quality can lead to fungal infections in fire belly newts. Look out for signs such as discolored patches or a fuzzy appearance on the skin. If detected, consult with a veterinarian who specializes in amphibians for appropriate treatment.
  • Parasites: External parasites like mites or ticks can occasionally affect fire belly newts. Regularly inspect the newts for any signs of these pests and seek veterinary advice if necessary.

If you notice any unusual behavior, changes in appetite, or physical abnormalities, it is essential to seek advice from a veterinarian who specializes in amphibians. Regular check-ups can help ensure the overall health and well-being of your newts.

Diet & Feeding

Fire belly newts are carnivorous and primarily feed on a variety of live or frozen foods. Providing a diverse diet is crucial to meet their nutritional needs. The following foods can be offered as part of their diet:

  • Insects: Small food items like blackworms, bloodworms, daphnia, brine shrimp, and small earthworms are excellent choices. These can be easily obtained from pet stores or online suppliers.
  • Aquatic Invertebrates: Offering small aquatic invertebrates, such as small snails, freshwater shrimp, or mosquito larvae, helps mimic the newts’ natural diet and enriches their feeding experience.
  • Commercial Pellets: Specialized amphibian or aquatic reptile pellets can be used as a supplement or occasional meal. Ensure that the pellets are specifically designed for amphibians and do not contain any artificial additives or fillers.
  • Feeding Frequency: Feed fire belly newts 2 to 3 times per week, offering an amount of food that they can consume within a few minutes. Remove any uneaten food to maintain water quality.

It is important to ensure that all food items are appropriately sized and easy for the newts to consume. Gut-loading insects with nutrient-rich foods or dusting them with calcium and vitamin supplements before feeding can enhance their nutritional value.


Breeding fire belly newts can be a rewarding experience; however, it requires careful planning and appropriate conditions to ensure successful reproduction. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Sex Determination: Male and female fire belly newts exhibit slight physical differences. Mature males tend to have a more slender body, a longer tail, and more pronounced warts on their back. Females, on the other hand, are generally larger and have a wider body.
  • Hibernation: Fire belly newts usually require a period of hibernation or brumation to stimulate breeding behavior. Lower the temperature gradually to around 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, reduce lighting hours, and provide a cooler environment for 6 to 8 weeks. Make sure to consult a breeding expert or a veterinarian for specific guidelines on hibernation.
  • Breeding Setup: A separate breeding tank can be set up with shallow water and plenty of hiding spots, such as aquatic plants or rocks. Provide a land area for the female to lay eggs if a separate land section is not available.
  • Courtship: Male fire belly newts perform an elaborate courtship ritual to attract females. This typically involves displaying their bright belly coloration, waving their tail, and performing a “dance” to entice the female. The male may cautiously touch the female’s body with its snout and then approach her underside.
  • Egg Laying: After successful courtship, the female will lay her eggs on plants or other surfaces. It is important to keep a close eye on the eggs and transfer them to a separate container with shallow water as soon as they are laid to prevent them from being eaten.
  • Tadpole Care: The eggs will hatch into aquatic larvae within a few weeks. The larvae, commonly known as tadpoles, have external gills and resemble small fish. Provide appropriate food, such as crushed boiled lettuce or commercial fish flakes, for the tadpoles to grow. Once the tadpoles develop legs and absorb their gills, they can gradually be transitioned to a land area.

Breeding fire belly newts can be a challenging endeavor, and success may vary. If you are not experienced with breeding amphibians, it is advisable to consult an experienced breeder or a veterinarian who specializes in amphibian reproduction for guidance.

Places You Find it for Sale

Fire belly newts are popular pets and can be found for sale in various places. Here are some common sources where you can find fire belly newts:

  • Pet stores: Many reptile and amphibian specialty stores may carry fire belly newts. Ensure that the store has a good reputation, and the newts are healthy and well-cared for.
  • Online suppliers: Numerous online suppliers specialize in selling amphibians, including fire belly newts. Take caution when purchasing online and research thoroughly to ensure that the supplier has good reviews and adheres to proper shipping and handling practices.
  • Reptile expos: Reptile expos or amphibian shows provide a chance to interact with breeders, who often have a variety of fire belly newts available for purchase. These events allow you to observe the animals in person, ask questions, and select from a wide range of available specimens.

When purchasing fire belly newts, it is important to choose healthy individuals that show no signs of illness or stress. Look for clear eyes, smooth skin, and an active and alert demeanor. Avoid buying newts from sources that do not prioritize the wellbeing of their animals.


The fire belly newt is a fascinating amphibian species that offers both visual appeal and relatively easy care requirements, making it an ideal choice for amphibian enthusiasts and beginners alike. By providing appropriate enclosure conditions, a balanced diet, and regular monitoring of their health, you can enjoy these vibrant creatures for years to come. Remember to always prioritize the wellbeing of your fire belly newts and seek professional advice when needed to ensure their optimal care.


What is a fire belly newt?

A fire belly newt is a type of small amphibian that belongs to the Salamandridae family. It is known for its vibrant red, orange, or yellow underbelly, which often contains black markings.

What is the scientific name for the fire belly newt?

The scientific name for the fire belly newt is Cynops orientalis.

Where are fire belly newts native to?

Fire belly newts are native to various regions in East Asia, including China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.

How big do fire belly newts grow?

Adult fire belly newts typically grow to be around 3 to 4 inches in length.

What do fire belly newts eat?

Fire belly newts are carnivorous and primarily feed on small invertebrates such as insects, worms, and small crustaceans.

Can fire belly newts live in water?

Yes, fire belly newts are semi-aquatic creatures and spend a significant amount of time in water. They require a well-maintained aquatic environment to thrive.

Do fire belly newts need a land area in their habitat?

While fire belly newts spend most of their time in water, they also require a land area in their habitat. This allows them to fully emerge from the water and bask or rest on dry land.

What temperature range is ideal for fire belly newts?

The ideal temperature range for fire belly newts is between 65°F and 75°F (18°C and 24°C). It is crucial to maintain stable and appropriate temperatures in their habitat.

How long do fire belly newts live?

On average, fire belly newts can live for approximately 10 to 15 years if provided with proper care and a suitable environment.

Are fire belly newts poisonous?

Yes, fire belly newts are mildly poisonous. They possess toxins in their skin, which serve as a defense mechanism against predators.

Can fire belly newts be kept as pets?

Yes, fire belly newts can be kept as pets. They are popular among amphibian enthusiasts due to their vibrant colors and relatively easy care requirements.

What type of enclosure do fire belly newts need?

Fire belly newts require a properly-sized aquarium or terrarium with both a water area and a land area. The enclosure should have a secure lid and proper filtration for the water.

How often should I clean the fire belly newt’s enclosure?

The enclosure should be regularly maintained to ensure proper hygiene for the fire belly newts. It is recommended to clean the enclosure every 1 to 2 weeks, removing any waste or uneaten food.

What should the water conditions be like for fire belly newts?

The water conditions for fire belly newts should mimic their natural habitat. It is important to maintain a pH level between 6.5 and 8, and the water should be dechlorinated and free from any toxins.

Can fire belly newts tolerate chlorine in tap water?

No, fire belly newts are very sensitive to chlorine in tap water. It is crucial to either use a water conditioner or let the tap water sit out for at least 24 hours before adding it to their enclosure.

What should fire belly newts’ diet consist of in captivity?

In captivity, fire belly newts can be fed a diet of small live or frozen foods, such as bloodworms, brine shrimp, daphnia, and small insects. It is important to offer a variety of nutritious options.

How often should fire belly newts be fed?

Fire belly newts should be fed every 1 to 2 days, offering an amount of food that they can consume within a few minutes. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and health problems.

Can fire belly newts be housed together?

Fire belly newts can be housed together in certain conditions. It is best to keep them in groups of the same species and similar size. Providing ample space and hiding spots is essential to minimize aggression.

Are fire belly newts social creatures?

Fire belly newts are generally solitary creatures and do not require companionship. They can become territorial and may display aggression towards other newts if kept together.

Can fire belly newts regrow lost limbs?

Yes, fire belly newts have the ability to regrow lost limbs, including legs and tails. This regenerative capability is a remarkable characteristic of many amphibians.

Do fire belly newts shed their skin?

Yes, fire belly newts periodically shed their skin as they grow. The shedding process helps them remove old or damaged skin and reveal a fresh layer underneath.

How should I handle fire belly newts?

Fire belly newts should be handled with care and should not be picked up too frequently. When handling, it is important to wet your hands to prevent the chance of transferring harmful substances from your skin to theirs.

Can I use tap water directly in the fire belly newt’s enclosure?

Tap water should not be used directly in the fire belly newt’s enclosure due to the presence of chlorine and other chemicals. It is crucial to treat the water to make it safe for their sensitive skin.

Can fire belly newts be kept together with other species?

Fire belly newts should not be kept together with other species, as they have specific care requirements and may not coexist peacefully. Mixing different species can lead to stress, disease transmission, and aggression.

What type of lighting do fire belly newts need?

Fire belly newts do not require UVB lighting, as they are primarily nocturnal and do not rely on UVB rays for vitamin D synthesis. Providing a low-intensity ambient light source is sufficient.

Can fire belly newts climb?

Fire belly newts are not particularly skilled climbers. They are mainly semi-aquatic and tend to spend their time in water or on land surfaces.

Is it necessary to provide a heating element in the fire belly newt’s enclosure?

Fire belly newts can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but it is recommended to provide a heating element to maintain a stable and suitable temperature in their habitat. This can be achieved with a low-wattage aquarium heater.

Do fire belly newts require a water filter?

Yes, fire belly newts require a water filter in their enclosure. A filter helps maintain water quality and prevents the buildup of harmful substances like ammonia or nitrites.

Can fire belly newts breathe underwater?

No, fire belly newts cannot breathe underwater. They have lungs and rely on oxygen exchange through the air. However, they have the ability to absorb oxygen through their skin while submerged.

Can fire belly newts survive out of water?

Fire belly newts can survive out of water for short periods, but they require a properly humidified environment. Prolonged exposure to dry conditions can cause them to dry out and become dehydrated.

How often do fire belly newts need to be misted?

Fire belly newts require a humid environment. It is beneficial to mist the enclosure at least once or twice a day to maintain proper humidity levels and prevent their skin from drying out.

Can fire belly newts be housed in a fish tank?

Fire belly newts can be housed in a fish tank as long as it meets their specific requirements. However, it is important to ensure the tank has a secure lid and proper land and water areas.

What is the best substrate for a fire belly newt’s enclosure?

Fine gravel or sand can be used as a substrate for a fire belly newt’s enclosure. However, make sure the substrate is not too coarse to prevent the newt from accidentally ingesting it.

Can fire belly newts jump out of their enclosure?

Fire belly newts do not have strong jumping abilities, but it is still important to provide a secure lid for their enclosure to prevent any accidental escapes.

Can fire belly newts be kept in a community tank with fish?

Fire belly newts should not be kept in a community tank with fish. Fish may prey on the newts or nip at their limbs. It is best to keep them in a separate enclosure.

Do fire belly newts make noise?

No, fire belly newts do not make noise. They are generally silent creatures and do not produce vocalizations.

Can fire belly newts live in brackish water?

No, fire belly newts are not suited for brackish water. They are freshwater creatures and should be kept in a fully aquatic setup with freshwater.

Do fire belly newts need a basking spot?

Fire belly newts do not necessarily require a designated basking spot, but they do benefit from having an area where they can fully emerge from the water and rest on dry land if desired.

How fast do fire belly newts grow?

Fire belly newts grow at a relatively slow pace. It takes them several months to reach their adult size, and their growth rate can vary depending on factors such as diet and environmental conditions.

Can fire belly newts be handled by children?

Fire belly newts can be handled by children under adult supervision. However, it is important to teach children to handle them gently and not to disturb them too frequently.

Are fire belly newts active during the day or night?

Fire belly newts are primarily nocturnal creatures, meaning they are most active during the night. They tend to hide and rest during the day.

Can fire belly newts live together in a large group?

While fire belly newts can tolerate being housed together in a larger group, it is best to keep groups of newts in a ratio of one male to multiple females. This helps reduce aggression among the males.

How do fire belly newts reproduce?

Fire belly newts reproduce through internal fertilization. After mating, the female will lay eggs, which she attaches to aquatic plants. The eggs hatch into larvae, which eventually undergo metamorphosis and become newts.

What is the lifespan of fire belly newt larvae?

The lifespan of fire belly newt larvae, also known as efts, can vary. Depending on the conditions and available food, they can spend several months to a year or more in their larval stage before metamorphosing into adult newts.

How long does it take for fire belly newt eggs to hatch?

Fire belly newt eggs typically take around 2 to 4 weeks to hatch. The exact duration can vary depending on temperature and other environmental factors.

Can fire belly newts change their color?

Yes, fire belly newts can change their color to some extent. They may appear darker or lighter depending on factors such as temperature, stress levels, or when they are preparing to shed their skin.

Are fire belly newts good for beginner hobbyists?

Fire belly newts can be suitable for beginner hobbyists as they have relatively straightforward care requirements. However, it is important to research and understand their needs before bringing them home.

Can fire belly newts live in a planted terrarium?

Fire belly newts can live in a planted terrarium as long as the plants are non-toxic and the water conditions are properly maintained. Live plants can enhance the enclosure’s aesthetic appeal and provide additional hiding spots.

Do fire belly newts need a UVB light source for vitamin D?

No, fire belly newts do not require a UVB light source for vitamin D synthesis. They primarily obtain the necessary nutrients through their diet and exposure to ambient light.

Can fire belly newts be housed together with reptiles?

Fire belly newts should not be housed together with reptiles. Reptiles have different environmental requirements, and keeping them with newts can lead to stress, competition for resources, and potential harm to either species.


One comment

  1. My family was given a Japanese Fire Belly newt by friends when they moved. Spotty was already several years old when we got him, and we were told we wouldn’t have to take care of him for many more years. Spotty surprised us all by living until he was at least fifty, despite a few interactions with the family cat. He was a wonderful newt, and it was a very sad day for all of us when he died.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *