Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name: Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt
Scientific Name: Cynops orientalis
Life Span: 10 to 15 years
Size: 2.2 to 4.0 inches
Habitat: Shallow water environments
Country of Origin: China

Physical Description

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Chinese fire-bellied newts are amphibians which live in ponds, pools, paddy fields, marshes, and seepages in forest habitats. These are native to China in the provinces of Hubei, Jiangsu, Anhui, and Zhejiang. These are animals that belong to the salamander family.

The Chinese fire-bellied newt is colored bright orange aposematic along their ventral sides. It is commonly confused with Japanese fire-bellied newt because both are quite similar in size and color. However, the Chinese fire-bellied newt has smoother skin and a rounded tail. It also has hidden parotoid glands.

Warning! These animals are poisonous and excrete toxins from their skin. The toxins from fire-bellied newts are primarily tetrodotoxins and may be dangerous if this is consumed. When the toxin is applied to the skin, it can cause irritation and numbness.

The IUCN has classified the Chinese Fire –Bellied Newt as a species of least concern. Because of this, lizard lovers and extreme pet owners have it as an exotic pet.

Life Span

In the wild, the fire-bellied newt can live from 10 to 15 years while some breeders claim that there are species that have lived for more than 15 years. If fire-bellied newts are cared for, these can live up to 30 years! The growth period is only four months, from juvenile to adulthood.

The Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt has three life stages similar to most lizard species:


After a quick gestation period, hatchlings will come out of their eggs and weighs only a fraction of their parent’s weight. However, these hatchlings are able to eat, hunt, and forage for food on their own.


During the juvenile stage, both male and female Chinese Fire-Bellied Newts grow at the same rate. The male and female will have the same weight and size, but the colors are more prominent in males than females


Adult Chinese Fire-Bellied Newts reach maturity in just 4 months. The males start to grow larger and heavier. Color variations come with a touch of red or brown. These colors are on the body and will extend to the tail.

Eating Habits

The diet of fire-bellied newts is eggs, invertebrates, and amphibian larvae. When cared in captivity, fire-bellied newts can be fed bloodworms, earthworms, nightcrawlers, and waxworms. Some newts will do well with commercially-prepared food.

You must gut load the insects you feed with commercial gut load mix or use baby cereal, dog, or cat food or fish flakes. Other pet owners gut load their insects with leafy greens. In case you have never heard of Use calcium powder to dust food before giving to your pet. This newt is nocturnal, so feed it in the evenings when it is most active. Never leave the prey roaming inside the tank in the morning. Also, remove any uneaten food.


Chinese Fire-Bellied Newts need fresh water. Leave a dish of clean water inside its enclosure. Change the water daily and make sure to clean the dish too to avoid the spread of bacterial contamination inside the enclosure.

Place water in a large shallow dish for swimming may be placed inside the tank. Chinese Fire-Bellied Newts may want to bask after swimming, so be sure to place a tree branch or rock for the newt to sit on.

Development and Reproduction

Breeding Chinese Fire-Bellied Newts are not too hard to do. Stimulate spring because this is the time when the breeding season usually starts. Cool the tank down for a month and a half before mating until you get around 10 degrees Celsius. After this period, increase the temperature to 20 degrees Celsius and provide good food.

A female can hatch 100 to 150 eggs, which are usually placed on top of the plants in water. After the eggs have been hatched, separate the male and female to two separate tanks. The eggs must be secured as well so that the parents won’t eat them. After 6 weeks, the eggs will hatch.

Common Health Problems

Here are the four common problems that Chinese Fire-Bellied Newts experience:

1) Poor Shedding

Healthy lizards that live in an enclosure with good living conditions will shed regularly. Keep in mind signs of shedding difficulties like flakes instead of one piece, skin clinging, and signs of restlessness.

Any stuck skin should be removed right away because this can cling on the limb and can cause constriction and damage. However, for any severe shedding, consult a vet at once. A vet can remove shedding and will also treat wounds due to incomplete shedding.

2) Metabolic Bone Disease

MBD is the lack of calcium in bones, and symptoms are deformities in the lizard’s skeletal system. Acute symptoms like bowed legs, rubbery jaw, and kinks in the spine, which can be seen upon closer inspection.

Females that hatch their eggs require more calcium, as well. MBD is reversible by improving vitamin D3 and calcium intake. Apply calcium supplement by dipping your finger in the calcium powder, wiping this on the newt’s mouth. Use a reliable UV lamp for daily vitamin D3 intake.

3) Parasites

Newts have a low level of parasites, which won’t cause diseases. However, if the newt is stressed or has an immune system condition, the parasites can multiply and affect the lizard’s health. Also, these parasites can multiply and affect other animals and humans, causing extreme health conditions.

To prevent the spread of parasites and infections, quarantine a new lizard up to a month before introducing this to the group. Always check for signs of parasitic infections like a bloated abdomen, poor appetite, and lack of energy. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your pet to the vet.

4) Wounds

Sometimes newts like the Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt can suffer from confrontations with other newts found in the same area. And any fights with other newts can lead to injuries like scratches and cuts. Any kind of wound must be treated quickly. Small cuts and wounds must be washed with clean water and disinfected. For deeper cuts, take your newt to the vet for treatment ASAP.

Preventing Illness

To prevent illness, keep the tank temperature and humidity at the ideal levels. This is the most common reason why newts like the Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt become ill in captivity. Place a bowl of water inside the tank because this will help improve humidity inside the tank.

Keep the tank clean because a dirty, unkempt tank can lead to the growth of bacteria, which can affect the health of your lizards. Always clean the tank with a good cleaning product and products that can leave any residue and toxins in the tank.

Feed the right food for your newt, such as organic food. Do not feed insects and worms caught from your yard because these may contain toxins from pesticides that can affect your newt’s health.

Quarantine new lizards. These new pets may introduce pests, mites, and illness to your old pets, so you must clear its health condition before you introduce it to other newts in the tank.


To better understand your pet Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt, get to know its many unique behaviors

Extremely Poisonous

Never attempt holding this newt with your bare hands or without any previous training. You may hurt yourself badly, or you can injure others as well. If you accidentally ingested the toxin or you placed the toxin in your mouth, see a doctor at once.


Newts shed regularly, and naturally, smaller, juvenile Chinese Fire-Bellied Newts will shed more frequently than an adult or mature newts. When your newt is shedding, increase the humidity inside the tank by placing a bowl of water. Do not handle your pet at this time. Simply monitor any sign of incomplete shedding.

Docile Behavior

One of the reasons why the Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt is a popular pet is due to its docile nature. And despite being poisonous, first-time newt or lizard owners think that it is a good pet to have because of its calm nature. This won’t bite and won’t wiggle out of your hand.

Will Climb Walls

Chinese Fire-Bellied Newts have sticky feet or adhesive lamellae, just like other newt species. This is why you must keep this newt on a tank with higher walls and with secure covers.

Will Grow Its Tail

One of the interesting things about a Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt is its ability to shed off its tail when it feels attacked or threatened. It will grow its tailback, but the lost tail will be replaced with a rounded tail.

Nocturnal Animal

This is a newt that will sleep during the day but will be active, eating, playing, and mating at night. So because of this, load your lizard’s food only when it is active.

Will Mate With Different Females

This species will mate with more females while females are attracted to more males, possibly because of an innate need to bear more children. Successful breeders put one male with two, three, or more females in an egg-laying breeding tank.

Are Not Good Parents

These animals are not good parents; this is because a female will lay eggs in the ground or in an egg box and will leave her hatchlings to fend for herself.  It won’t care for its young after these have hatched from their shells. The hatchlings will forage for food and find a place to stay safe.


Shedding should be complete for healthy lizards and in lizards grown in the best environment. But some newts may suffer from incomplete shedding, which means parts of the tail, hands, feet, and eyes have a difficult time to shed. The old skin will be removed from the body in flakes, and this means that there are potential metabolic problems.

To deal with incomplete shedding and to help newts shed completely, improve humidity levels inside the tank. You must hold your pet and soak this in warm water for at least a few minutes to soften dead skin. Dead skin cells will be easily removed after this soak.

Shedding happens regularly with juveniles but less frequently in adults and in senior lizards. Shedding is stressful, so it’s always best to leave your pet alone and just monitor the shedding progress.


Choose a 10-gallon tank, but a larger 20-gallon one is also a good size as well. One or two newts can fit in one tank, but during breeding time, place only one male is to two or more females for improved success.

There must be rocks, branches, and areas where the newt can sit and bask under the heating lamp. This newt can climb walls, so cover the top with a screen cover to prevent escape and other pets or predators from entering the enclosure.

Secure the tank with a lock. This must be placed in a quiet environment like a spare room, basement, or attic to allow your newt to sleep and recuperate during the morning. This is a nocturnal animal; therefore, it will be active at night time only.

Lighting, Humidity, and Temperature

Choose an efficient lighting system for your newt tank. Incandescent light is the most efficient, according to pet owners. Also, expose your newts to a minimum of 12 hours of light, just like daylight.

Incandescent lighting is also a good source of heat. Additional heat may be applied by placing the tank on an under-cage heating pad. This will keep the tank interiors at 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning and at least 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

Use a mister and apply a spray of water inside the tank to maintain humidity. A humidifier is a good idea for more accurate humidity levels. A bowl of water can also maintain tank humidity. Always keep this water clean and fresh. 

Tank Bedding and Accessories

Chinese Fire-Bellied Newts are nocturnal, so there must be areas where it can sleep peacefully in the day time. No matter what design you want to set up, consider your pet’s safety most of all. The accessories that you place inside must be safe, with no jagged or pointed edges which can harm your newt.

Use a turned over clay pot, or a plastic container as a hide for your newt. Place one lizard’s shelter near the heat source and another at the back of the tank. For the bedding or substrate, a paper substrate for easy cleaning is the best. You may also use a newspaper, butcher, or paper towel. Never use sand because the newt can ingest this and affect its stomach or intestine. Also, never use substrate materials with too much smell, which can affect the health of your pet newts. 


Clean your newt’s cage with effective cleaners. Basic cleaners work well than expensive cleaners. You can use bleach, dishwashing soap and water and make sure to rinse everything before you place the newt back. You may also use baking soda with water to create a paste. Use this to clean the tank and remove foul odors.

If you want to use chemical cleaners, follow the instructions on the cover carefully. Never use two products at a time and always rinse well with running water. Dry the tank using paper towels before placing all the accessories and your pet in. You may also remove disease-causing bacteria with boiling water.

Availability – Where to Get One?

You can get a Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt from a local pet store or reptile shop, but it can take time before you take this pet home. This is usually ordered from a trader or supplier online. The price for a regular Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt is around $300, and newts with more interesting designs and elaborate colors may cost more. Male newts are often more expensive compared to females. Ready to breed newts are also more expensive compared to juvenile newts.

How to Care for a Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt

Your Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt is in good hands when you remember the following techniques:

  • Maintain the right humidity levels inside the tank. This will prevent illnesses, enhance shedding, and keep your lizard healthy.
  • Place the tank in a quiet area during the mornings since this newt is a nocturnal lizard.
  • Handle your newt as much as possible but wear protective equipment. Doing this can develop trust in your pet.
  • Handle your lizard to prevent stress. Any stress can affect your newt’s health, and this can keep it happy and healthy inside its enclosure.
  • Avoid overcrowding and place only two lizards in a tank. Use smaller tanks if you want to breed newts and also for laying eggs.
  • Change your substrate regularly to prevent mold, bacteria, and parasites. Change the water inside the bowl, but don’t remove this since this maintains humidity.
  • Feed your newt the best kind of food and take this as a good way to feed your newts supplements and nutrients.
  • Take your pet to the vet for any problems. Don’t manage  

FAQ Section

What do Chinese Fire-Bellied Newts eat?

Chinese Fire-Bellied Newts will eat insects and different kinds of leafy greens. Some owners use pinkie mice, which is the best way to deliver nutrients to your pet newt. Gut loading is placing nutrients or supplements inside prey and fed to the lizard as a regular meal.

Is this gecko dangerous?

No, Chinese Fire-Bellied Newts are not dangerous and will rarely bite you. But the toxin on its skin may cause irritation.  It is known to be one of the easiest to care for and will exhibit a docile trait as long as you handle it safely. New lizard owners should learn how to hold their pet newt as early as possible.

How do you breed this gecko?

This gecko may be bred in captivity, and it starts with selecting a healthy male and female. Breeding happens fast, and once the female is pregnant and ready to lay eggs, she will find a good spot to do so.

Is a newt territorial?

Yes, Chinese Fire-Bellied Newts are very territorial, and sometimes, these can fight till one becomes severely injured. If you have several males, place each one in separate tanks or enclosures to prevent fighting.

Can you get Salmonella from handling a newt?

Some newts and lizards come with parasites, which may not affect them at all. However, this is very dangerous to humans and other pets. Salmonella is just one of these dangerous illnesses which can affect humans and transferred from a reptile to humans. If you have symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, severe abdominal pains, and so on, then suspect Salmonella.

How much food does a newt eat?

It may depend on the size of the newt and also according to its nutritional requirements. If the newt is still young, it may require frequent feedings. Egg-laying lizards may need to be fed more.

Will Chinese Fire-Bellied Newts eat their young?

There is no record that a breeder has witnessed this, although some gecko species eat their own young. It is also not known why this happens, but some say that it may be due to a fight for dominance in a group.

Where can you buy a Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt?

Check a local pet store or exotic reptile store near you. Or you may look for specimens from online pet stores. You may also adopt a newt from a friend or from the pound, which is a good way to end indiscriminate buying and trade.

How do you train a newt to follow you?

Some breeders say that a newt can understand their owners and may even recognize their owner’s voice. Constant handling will allow you to train your pet to respond to your calls, as well.

Is a Chinese Fire Bellied Newt endangered?

No, it is not an endangered species at all and is not part of an endangered species list. However, extra care is recommended when buying this from a dealer because you don’t know what you are going to get.

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