Animals

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Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt
Cynops orientalis

 

 

Fascinating Facts

  • Males usually smaller and thinner and have a shorter tail with higher caudal fin than female.
  • Local peasants believed they had the power to bring rain.

Physical Characteristics

Fire-bellied newts are a relatively small newt with black or dark brown backs and bright orange or scarlet undersides.  Their skin is relatively smooth, and C. orientalis has distinct parotoid glands. Head relatively large, a little longer than broad; snout rounded. Like most newts, males have a swollen cloacal region, which is especially pronounced during the breeding season.

Chinese Firebelly Newts are mildly poisonous and excrete toxins through their skin but may lose their toxicity in captivity. Tetrodotoxin (TTX) has no known antidote and can cause death by suffocation in as little as six hours after ingestion. Despite this, skin excretions alone are unlikely to be harmful to humans unless the entire animal is swallowed. Regardless, the washing of hands before and after contact with these or any amphibian is important to reduce the risk of transferring toxins or disease to and from the animal.

Habitat/Diet

The newt lives in China provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Anhui, and Hubei. Their habitats are ponds, streams and wetlands found from 99 feet to 3280 ft above sea level, associated with bodies of still water. They eat a variety of small invertebrates and amphibian larvae and eggs.

Social Behavior

Methods of prey capture have been shown to be active hunting-foraging and/or ambush. Their life span in the wild is around 12 years.

Status In The Wild

This is a common and abundant species in its range. Currently, the major crises faced by C. orientalis include the use of herbicide or insecticide in rice terraces, and human exploitation.

Other

The Chinese Fire-Bellied Newt is currently off exhibit.