Please see Part I of this article for general information on some of earth’s most toxic amphibians (if not creatures in general) and for additional newt-keeping observations.
Tiny Newt vs. Giant Toad
The familiar red-spotted or Eastern newt (Notopthalmus viridescens) is at its most toxic in the immature eft (land) stage, but the aquatic adults are none-the-less well protected.
Decades ago, the mascot of an animal importer for whom I worked was a huge marine toad (Bufo marinus). In those days, animals imported from then French Guyana were particularly massive, and this friendly, 4 pound+ specimen was no exception. Imported animals which did not thrive following their long journey to the USA, ranging from giant Vietnamese centipedes to small rats and finches, all went to filling this amphibian behemoth’s huge appetite.
As a naïve 13 year old animal caretaker, I once tossed a nearly dead, 3-inch- long Eastern newt to the toad. The newt was swallowed immediately and, right before my eyes, the toad flipped over…dead (along with my budding career!). Years later, a co-worker reported a similar incident involving a Western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii).
Interesting Means of Toxin Introduction
Several salamanders have quite unique ways of distributing their protective secretions – fire salamanders (Salamandra salamandra), for example, can squirt theirs for some distance. Perhaps strangest of all, the Spanish ribbed newt (Pleurodeles waltl) actually drives toxin-tipped ribs through the skin of its back when confronted by a predator!
Cautions regarding Pet Newts and Salamanders
Highly toxic newts and salamanders, including all mentioned in this article, are widely available in the pet trade. Many make interesting and long-lived pets. However, please treat all newts and salamanders with caution…always wash well after handling them (most need not be handled, and none appreciate it) and, of course, do not trust them around children, mentally challenged persons, or pets.
Please check out my book Newts and Salamanders for more information on the natural history and captive care of red-spotted newt, ribbed newts, fire salamanders and their relatives.
Image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Peter Galaxy.