Spanish Ribbed Newt Care Sheet

Spanish Ribbed Newt

Scientific Facts

Common Name:Spanish Ribbed Newt
Scientific Name:Pleurodeles waltl
Life Span:10 years
Size:12 inches
Habitat:Coastal areas, small ponds, marshes, and slow-moving streams 
Country of Origin:Northwestern Morocco

Physical Description

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Spanish ribbed newt is a large and beautiful lizard that is easy to keep and is aquatic. It is known as the largest European newt species and is known as one of the largest in the world. These can grow more than 8 inches. These are available in two colors: normal or the wild type of newt and the leucistic or newts with pinkish-white bodies.

In 2006, the Spanish ribbed newt was included in the list of Near Threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN. Recently, populations of Spanish ribbed newts have disappeared in regions where they were abundant. The reason for this is habitat destruction, agricultural runoff, pollution, and the introduction of new and invasive species that eat the newt’s eggs and young.

This newt is large, robust with olive-brown and rough skin that has black spots and large blotches. Wild can grow up to 12 inches while captive newts can grow up to 9 inches. This newt has a broad body, laterally compressed, and has very large muscles. The eyes are at the top of the head and are positioned forward. Males and females have dorsal and ventral crests on their tales. Males have tails that are slightly disproportionate to their length.

Sexually mature males and females have very different appearances, therefore, determining which one is male and which are female is easy. The male newts have slender bodies with narrow heads compared to females. 

Females also have long libs but may look disproportionate to their bodies. Females have larger heads. Juveniles are hard to sex because their characteristics do not develop until these are around 10 months. However, when you check out mature or adult newts, these characteristics are very easy to spot.   

Life Span 

In the wild, the 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 newts are cared for, these can live more than 10 years. 

The Spanish Ribbed 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 very small percentage of their parent’s weight. However, these are able to eat, hunt, and forage for food on their own. 


During the juvenile stage, both male and female Spanish Ribbed Newts grow at the same rate. The male and female will have the same weight and size, and it is very difficult to determine which one is male and which one is female.


Adult Spanish Ribbed Newts reach maturity in just 10 months. The males start to grow larger. Color variations are seen. Females have heads that are more proportionate, tails, and eyes compared to males. 

Eating Habits

The diet of Spanish ribbed newts is eggs, invertebrates, and amphibian larvae. When cared in captivity, fire-bellied newts can be fed pellets, bloodworms, earthworms, and waxworms. Some newts will do well with commercially prepared food, but be sure to use only trusted pet food brands. 

You may gut load the insects you feed with commercial gut load mix or baby cereal, dog or cat food, or fish flakes. Other pet owners use leafy greens. Use calcium powder to dust food before giving it to your pet. This newt is nocturnal, so feed it in the evenings when it is most active. 


Whatever tank size you want to use, the emphasis is water quality. You must maintain water conditions by waiting for at least a week to add your newts to a newly cleaned aquarium. The longer an aquarium is working in processing waste, the more efficient it gets, and the better bacteria colonies are established. 

Use 4 to 5 gallons of water per newt. Change water every week of at least 10 percent of the tank water. Use non-chlorinated water that it the same temperature as the dirty water to avoid stressing your newts. Create a feeding schedule so your tank will remain cleaner longer. Change water during the day when your newts will be fed. The ideal water temperature has to be 66 to 75 degrees.

Development and Reproduction

Breeding Spanish Ribbed Newts are not too hard to do. Stimulate the breeding season by keeping one male and one female newt in a tank. Slightly cool the tank down for a month and a half before mating. After this period, increase the temperature to 20 degrees Celsius and give your newts the best kind of food. 

Males usually swim underneath the female and rub her throat using his head. After 30 minutes of this courtship, the male will position itself under the female and latch onto her by placing his forelimbs over her forelimbs, creating an embrace. The pair can be locked in this position for hours. 

After a week of mating, the female will deposit her eggs to aquatic plants in gelatinous threads. These can contain around 20 eggs per strand. She can deposit 100 to 1000 eggs in one spawn. 

Common Health Problems

Here are the five common problems that Spanish Ribbed Newts experience:

Poor shedding

Even in the water, Spanish ribbed newts can shed. Healthy lizards that live in a tank with good living conditions will shed regularly. Check for signs of shedding difficulty like flakes instead of one piece, clinging skin and signs of restlessness. 

Any stuck skin must be removed right away because this can cling and can cause constriction and damage. For any severe shedding, consult an exotics vet at once.

Metabolic Bone Disease

MBD is another very common condition, and this is the lack of calcium in bones. Symptoms are deformities in the lizard’s skeletal system like bowed legs, rubbery jaw, and kinks in the spine, which can be seen when you hold the lizard in your hand. 

Females that hatch their eggs need more calcium as well. MBD is reversible by improving vitamin D3 and calcium intake. You must use a calcium supplement to add to your feeding and use a reliable UV lamp for daily vitamin D3 intake. 


Newts come with a low level of parasites, which will not cause diseases on the newt, but if the newt is stressed or have an immune system condition, these may increase in number and affect the newt’s health. In addition, these parasites can multiply and affect other newts causing extreme health conditions. 

You must spread of parasites and infections by placing new newts under quarantine to a month before introducing this to the group. You must check for signs of parasitic infections like a bloated abdomen, lack of appetite, and poor energy. If you notice any of these symptoms, you must take your pet to an exotics vet. 


Newt like the Spanish Ribbed Newt can suffer from injuries with other newts found in the same area. And fights with other newts can lead to injuries such as bruises, scratches, and cuts. Any wound must be treated quickly. Small cuts and wounds may be treated with a disinfectant, while deeper cuts should be taken to the vet for treatment at once.

Preventing Illness

To prevent illness, keep the tank temperature at the ideal levels. This is the most common reason why newts like the Spanish Ribbed Newt become ill in captivity is poorly kept water. Use a water filter to clean your tank water and to use clean water to maintain the tank health.

Keep the tank clean because the dirty, unkempt tank can lead to the growth of bacteria that can affect the health of your newts. Clean the tank with a good cleaning product at least every two weeks. Replace water from the tank, around 10% of the dirty water with clean water every week.

Feed the right food for your newt, such as organic food. Do not feed insects and worms from your yard because these may contain toxins from pesticides that can make your newt ill. And always quarantine new newts. These new pets may introduce pests, mites, and illness to your old newts, so you must clear its health condition before you introduce it to other inhabitants in the tank. 


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To better understand your pet Spanish Ribbed Newt, get to know its many unique behaviors


Newts shed regularly, and naturally, smaller, juvenile Spanish Ribbed Newts will shed more frequently than adult newts. When your newt is shedding, do not handle your pet at this time. Simply monitor any sign of incomplete shedding. 

Docile behavior

One of the reasons why the Spanish Ribbed Newt is a popular pet is because of its docile nature. And despite being hard to find, first-time newt or lizard owners think that it is a good pet to have because of its calm. But you cannot place the newt out of the tank for a longer period of time.

Will grow its tail 

One of the interesting things about a Spanish Ribbed Newt like other newts and lizards is its ability to shed off its tail when it feels attacked. It will grow its tailback, but the new tail will be a rounded tail. 

Nocturnal animal

This newt will sleep during the day but will be active, eating, and mating at night. So because of this, load your feed your newt only when it is active. Some newts may not be nocturnal at all, depending on where it is located. To identify this, monitor the behavior of your newt for a few weeks until you are certain.

Will mate with different females

This species will mate with more females if you let them. Females are attracted to more males, possibly due to an innate need to bear more children. Successful breeders put one male with a female, but they can still place the male to another tank with another female to increase the chance of breeding these impressive newts.

Mating embrace

Newts like the Spanish ribbed newt have a very simple display during mating. These will lock themselves in a loving embrace when mating, and this may last for many hours. After this embrace, which is elicited by the male, mating ensues. Females may become pregnant after a week of mating with one male.  


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Choose a larger 20-gallon one is also a good size for newts. One or two newts can fit in one tank, but during breeding time, place only one male and one female in a smaller tank. 

There must be rocks, branches, and plants where the newt can sit and bask under the heating lamp. This newt may also climb walls, so cover the top with a screen to prevent escape. Always secure the tank with a lock. 

The tank must be placed in a quiet environment like a spare room, basement, or attic. A quiet area will allow your newt to sleep and recuperate during the mornings. If your newt is nocturnal, it can be active at night.

Lighting, Humidity, and Temperature

Choose an appropriate aquarium lighting system for your newt tank. Incandescent light is the most efficient. Also, expose your newts to a minimum of 12 hours of light just like daylight, which is the usual amount of daylight it receives in the wild.

Incandescent lighting is also a good way to heat water. Additional heat may be applied by placing the tank on an under-cage heating pad. This will keep the tank interiors at 66 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the morning and at least 85 degrees Fahrenheit at nighttime. Use a reliable water filter to clean the tank water more efficiently. 

Tank Bedding and Accessories

Spanish Ribbed Newts are nocturnal, so prepare areas where it can sleep peacefully in the day. No matter what design or theme you want to set up, consider your pet’s safety. The accessories that you place inside must be safe, with no pointed edges, which can harm your newt. You may place real plants or artificial plants. 

Use a turned over clay pot, or a plastic container as a hide for your newt. Place one hide or shelter near the heat source and another at the back. Use aquarium sand or pebbles as a substrate. You may also use rocks that are safe for your pet. An aquarium accessories or supplies store can help you find good accessories and substrate for your aquarium tank.                                                                                                       


Once every two weeks, transfer your newts and drain your tank to clean it thoroughly. Clean your newt’s cage with effective cleaners. You can use basic cleaners than expensive cleaners. You can use bleach, dishwashing soap and water and make sure to rinse everything. You may also use baking soda with water to create a paste. This natural cleaner can clean the tank and remove foul odors. 

If you want to use chemical cleaners, follow the instructions on the cover carefully. Always rinse well with running water. Dry the tank using paper towels before placing new water in. Place sand or pebbles first before you add water. 

Allow water to stay undisturbed for at least a day before you place the newts in. This way, all the dirt and bacteria in the water has settled. Use unchlorinated water because chlorine can harm your pets.

Availability – Where to Get One?

You can get a Spanish Ribbed Newt from a local pet store or reptile shop, but it can take time because this is a nearly extinct animal. This is usually ordered from a trader or supplier online who have bred these newts himself. Never take newts from the wild. 

The price for a regular Spanish Ribbed Newt is around $100, and newts with more elaborate designs and colors may cost more. The lighter colored newt is more expensive than the wild-colored ones. 

Male newts are more expensive compared to females and ready to breed newts are also more expensive compared to juvenile lizards. 

How to Care for a Spanish Ribbed Newt

Your Spanish Ribbed Newt will be healthy and happy when you remember the following techniques:

  • Maintain the right temperature inside the tank. This will prevent illnesses, improve shedding, and keep your newt happy and healthy.
  • Put the tank in a quiet area during the mornings because some newts are nocturnal. 
  • Handle your newt as much as possible but wear protective equipment. Be careful because this newt can be very sensitive.
  • Handle your newt to control stress. Any stress can affect health, and this can keep it happy and healthy.
  • Do not overcrowd a tank. Put only two newts in a tank. Use smaller tanks if you want to breed newts and to take care of their eggs. 
  • Change your water regularly to prevent bacteria and parasites. Change the water at least 10% of the water every week. Replace water with temperature the same as the water found in the tank
  • Always feed your newt the best kind of food and use this as a good way to feed your newts the best supplements and nutrients. 
  • Take your pet to the vet for health problems. An exotics vet is the best way to go.   

FAQ Section

Do newts shed their skin?

Yes, even the ribbed newt, which is aquatic, may shed its skin. You must never disturb your newt when it is shedding and just intervene when there is restlessness or constricting skin on the arms, tail, and legs.

Do newts sleep?

Yes, newts will sleep. They will usually sleep in the morning because these are mostly nocturnal creatures, but some newts are diurnal and will sleep in the evening and eat in the morning.

Can newts live on land?

Only a few newts cannot live on land like the Spanish ribbed newt. This newt prefers to live in water, but it can still come up on land if it wants to. 

Will newts make good pets?

Yes, newts are known to be good pets, and in fact, some pet owners say that their pets can recognize their owners and can come up with the tank for food or when their owners are there. 

Will newts bite?

Yes, newts can bite when it feels threatened, so do not stress your pet newt and threaten them because surely you will be bitten.

Can you hold newts in your hand?

Yes, you can hold newts on your hand, but we recommend wearing gloves or protective gear to hold your pet because these may become stressed. Your hands must also be free from chemicals or any soap, bleach, shampoo, or lotion because these can irritate your pet.

Can newts climb the tank glass?

Most newts can climb the tank glass of an aquarium, and thus, the top should be covered or secured well. Your newt may try to escape, or predators like house cats can try to get them from their tanks, so keep the top well covered.

How deep should your tank water be?

You can make the tank a foot or two deep depending on your preference, but we recommend giving your newts space to climb up a rock and bask under the tank light. 

Can newts tolerate tap water?

Newts can use tap water as long as this is non-chlorinated. Chlorine and other minerals in water are harmful to your pet. Use well water or bottled water; you must test your water beforehand to check. 

How to tell if the water is chlorinated?

A simple water test would check this out. Buy a water testing kit from a garden supplies shop. Follow the instructions well, and you will be able to find out the status of your water.

How long can a newt remain out of water?

The answer depends on what kind of newt you have. Water newts cannot survive without water. The longest time is up to a few hours, especially when the land conditions are warm or hot. 

Can newts live with other animals in the tank?

Yes, newts can live with smaller animals like feeder fish, but these will become their meal. 

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