Marbled Newts (Tritorus marmoratus)
Not only is the marbled newt visually striking, but it's also very hardy and a good beginner species.
Though not as readily available as some other animals in the hobby, marbled newts are easy amphibians to keep. If you're interested in caring for them, here are the basics you need to get started.
In their natural habitats, marbled newts can be found throughout Southern Europe, including Portugal, France, and Spain, though they're absent from parts of the Pyrannese mountains.
In the wild, marbled newts usually live in or near ponds with vegetation, pools, streams, and ditches that are connected to shaded woodlands, fields, or grasslands.
When first hatched, the tadpole-like babies will remain in the water until they are fully formed efts (the juvenile stage at which they have formed all limbs and lost all gills). At this point, they will often become terrestrial. It's common for adults to spend most of their time on land or near the water's edge. This is also a gregarious species, often huddling together in clusters, even when multiple places to rest or hide are available.
While most adult marbled newts will primarily remain near land, however, some will occasionally prefer to spend more time in water, even outside of breeding season.
Marbled newts have green and black marbled backs of varying patterns and amounts that are offset by an orange stripe running the length of the body. As males mature, this stripe will fade. During mating season, males will develop a high crest that becomes a low ridge outside of the breeding period.
They will typically reach between 5 and 7 inches as adults, including tail length.
Their undersides are usually a mottled coloration of black, gray, white, and cream.
A glass terrarium of at least 24 inches in length or an aquarium of at least 15 gallons can hold a pair of marbled newts. Larger enclosures should be used for more individuals, and more space is better if possible.
In captivity, you have several options when it comes to setting up an enclosure for marbled newts (discussed below), but there are a few things to keep in mind when housing them:
Paludariums desgined with half land and half water are often used to provide a constant semi-aquatic habitat, which suits all stages of the life cycle.
A paludarium can be created in many ways. One simple method is to slope a ""land"" area up on one side using rocks or sand, and filling the water to the desired depth before adding other decorations, plants, etc. They can also be designed more elaborately. The video below demonstrates one way to build a paludarium with a custom background, waterfall, and live plants.
However, rather than a half water and half land enclosure, some owners will use either a mostly terrestrial setup with a water area, or a mostly aquatic setup with a basking or island area.
One option is to set up a terrestrial habitat with a water feature or a water dish large enough for your newts to soak in, which they'll also use to aid in shedding their skin. Ensure the newts can easily climb in and out of the dish. Water should also be dechlorinated and be kept clean.
Substrate should ideally be soil-based and about 3 - 4 inches deep. Again, it needs to be kept moist but not waterlogged. Reptisoil or Biobedding both work well. The enclosure can be furnished with rocks, logs, and pieces of bark to create hiding places. Sphagnum moss and leaf litter can also be added.
You can read more on setting up a bioactive enclosure here.
Another possibility is to provide an aquatic setup with logs, floating islands, turtle banks, driftwood, etc., coming out of the water so the newts have something to climb out onto when they feel like it.
Pothos or spathiphyllum plants are a popular choice for many amphibian bioactive enclosures, though many other plants work well. Plants in and above the water are all appreciated by marbled newts. At times, they will also cling to plant foliage and relax above the water this way. If they breed, they will attach their eggs to the leaves of aquatic plants.
They also enjoy hides made from rocks, wood, stones, etc., and commercial aquarium decorations.
Fine sand or large rocks work for substrate, but a bare bottom tank can also be used.
Just as with other aquarium setups, water needs to be kept clean, and a filter with a gentle flow is beneficial. Marbled newts inhabit areas of calm water in their natural environment. A sponge filter is often used (with a control valve on the air pump if necessary for a calmer water flow). This can filter the water without causing too much disturbance to the newts. Additionally, if there are any newt babies in the future, they won't get sucked up into a sponge filter.
Marbled newts will thrive in temperatures in the 60s and low 70s. In winter months, they can tolerate temperatures down to 40F; likewise, in the summer, they can tolerate water up to 77F for a short time, though keeping water below 75 is more ideal. It is best to avoid the extreme ends of this temperature range for prolonged periods.
This was already mentioned, but is extremely important, as all newts are talented escape artists. A tight-fitting screen lid is recommended for newts; you may want to use lid clamps to help in preventing any such escape.
Marbled newts are voracious eaters! For newts on land, you can feed them just about anything that moves and fits in their mouths. Crickets of appropriate size, black soldier fly larvae, fruit flies, dwarf white isopods, chopped up earthworms, and bean beetles are all welcome meals.
For your more aquatic dwellers, frozen thawed bloodworms and brine shrimp, and other live aquatic foods such as mosquito larvae and blackworms will all be feasted upon happily. Some newts will eat commercial newt pellets or food, but in my experience, I don't count on them as a staple, only a supplement. It seems some newts will refuse them altogether, while others will eat them willingly.
If you want a stunning and hardy amphibian pet, look no further than the marbled newt!