Thursday, March 15, 2012

Meet the Newtons

Hey ya'll

I took a trip down memory lane today when I was walking around in Sunway Pyramid and stopped by the pet-fish stall to find these tiny little amphibians in small plastic containers. I could hardly believe my eyes! They were Chinese fire-belly newts, a species I had often raised as a child, and such wonderfully cute specimens at that!

I recall a time when these newts were sold pretty much everywhere. I got my first newt from a rather run down and dirty aquarium shop (RESCUED IT, more like) for less than 10 ringgit. That one I raised for several years though, it was already an adult when I bought it and so did pretty much nothing other than eat and clamber about. Not too long later though, these newts were everywhere!!! Pets Wonderland was carrying them, and so was that department store that replaced IKEA in the old wing of One Utama shopping mall for a period (they sold them for 15 ringgit here). After a spell though, it seems the popularity for newt pets died down somewhat and resurfaced only momentarily with the opening of the exotic pets section at Pet Safari @ Ikano/The Curve but those specimens were horribly overpriced and I don't think anybody ever bought any of them. That was the last time I saw fire-bellies on sale (my first newt had died after living with me for 4 years or so due to an accident where it escaped only to crawl off the top stair and fall two stories down.) Anyway as you might have imagined, I couldn't simply pass off on an opportunity to raise these delightful creatures once again and so ended purchasing one for myself (again for the low, low price of 10 ringgit... oh the sweet memories!!!) 

Chinese Fire-belly Newt (Cynops orientalis)
As their name implies the fire-belly newt possess a rather brilliantly colored underbelly that can range anywhere from red to orange with dark spots. This, of course, is a form of aposematism whereby the colors are used to warn predators of the newt's toxicity. All newts of the genus cynops are capable of producing a mild neurotoxin that can be harmful to humans if consumed in great quantities. However, considering the fact that I do not intend to handle these animals very often (it is generally a bad idea to handle amphibians unless you can't absolutely help it on account of their porous skin) I really don't think this would be much concern to me. Besides, skin excretions alone are not enough to pose a health risk to human beings. What is of my interest, however, is the beautiful markings they possess on their bellies. 

They are named Isaac and Olivia, respectively, after the two most famous Newtons that could come to my mind. 

Stay tuned for updates. 


1 comment:

SlyTakada said...

hi,just a random guy askin...whr did u find d fire belly newt?