Difference Between Newt and Salamander?

Is a newt a salamander? Yes, but a salamander is not always a newt. Confused? The word “salamander” is the name for an entire group, or scientific order, of amphibians that have tails as adults. This includes amphibians commonly known as newts and sirens. Most salamanders look like a cross between a lizard and a frog. They have moist, smooth skin like frogs and long tails like lizards. The term “newt” is sometimes used for salamanders that spend most of each year living on land. The name “siren” is generally given to salamanders that have lungs as well as gills and never develop beyond the larval stage. Other names salamanders go by include olm, axolotl, spring lizard, water dog, mud puppy, hellbender, triton, and Congo eel. Whew!

They spend most of their time staying out of the sun under rocks and logs, up in trees, or in burrows theyve dug in the damp earth. They have very pale skin, greatly reduced eyes, and have adapted to living in complete darkness in underground pools of water.

In late March and early April, when it begins to rain and the streams and pools fill up, Kaisers newts emerge to feed heartily and then find a mate. After this burst of activity, summer arrives, and they head underground, burrowing into the sandy soil and entering a state of torpor in which their heart rate and breathing slow, and they do not eat. It can squeeze its muscles to make the rib tips pierce through its skin and into its enemy, teaching it a sharp lesson!

Filling in their ponds, using pesticides, and rerouting water for our own needs has caused declines in many salamander populationsmore than 70 species are currently listed as being at critical risk!

Are salamanders or newts poisonous?

All salamander species secrete toxins over their skins, which if ingested can be poisonous, generally speaking though, juveniles are far more toxic than adults. … Of the Taricha species, the Rough-Skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa) is the most toxic.

How do you identify a salamander?

Salamanders are small amphibians that look like lizards but are not a part of the reptile family. They do not have scales, their skin is moist and soft and they have long tails. There are three main types of salamanders: totally aquatic, semiaquatic, and totally terrestrial.

Is it OK to touch salamanders?

For starters, don’t touch —unless you are moving them out of harm’s way. Salamanders have absorbent skin and the oils, salts and lotions on our hands can do serious damage.

Can you touch a newt?

Newts shouldn’t be handled any more than absolutely necessary, as much for their own protection as yours. Oils or other substances such as soap or chemicals on your skin can injure the newt’s skin or be absorbed through their skin, and the simple act of handling can damage the delicate skin of a newt.

If you’ve ever gone hiking or backpacking east of the Mississippi River, you might’ve seen a little amphibian called Notophthalmus viridescens, or the eastern newt.

Abandoning the cool ponds of their childhoods, they become landlubbers who hang out on forest floors or mossy meadows. Before they return to the water, young eastern newts are easily mistaken for a larger, unrelated species: the red salamander ( Pseudotriton ruber ).

It’s not a label biologists use when they talk among themselves; if you want to get technical, amphibians are more accurately called ” ectothermic poikilotherms .” David Wake is a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley and the director of the AmphibiaWeb Project , a virtual amphibian database. By popular tradition, the label “newt” has been reserved for various salamanders in the Pleurodelinae subfamily.

So returning to the question we posed earlier, our friend the eastern newt is a member of the Pleurodelinae. According to Gibbons, those New World animals “are referred to as ‘newts’ rather than ‘salamanders’ because of general familiarity [with] the name by the populace within their geographic region.” That’s not a hard-and-fast rule: Wake says salamanders in the genus Pachytriton are called newts despite being “fully aquatic and smooth skinned.”

Speaking of taste, Gibbon tells us newts often harbor “poison glands in the skin that make them mildly or highly toxic to other animals, including humans.” A single rough-skinned newt ( Taricha granulosa ) carries enough TTX to kill upward of 2,000 kingfishers, 200 herons or 100 people! Natural selection pushed the newts to repel these snakes by increasing their toxicity levels.

Newts are small semi-aquatic amphibians that look like a cross between a frog and a lizard. Newts possess several interesting characteristics. For example, though they may look cute and harmless, they can be dangerous; toxins secreted through the skin as a defense mechanism could kill a person. Newts also can regrow lost limbs and organs. That ability makes them important subjects in medical studies on regeneration. Also, some newts have flown on space missions.

True salamanders ” belong to Chioglossa , Mertensiella , and Salamandra , according to the Animal Diversity Web (ADW). For example, the alligator newt lives on the southern islands of Japan in swamps, forests, grasslands and croplands.

Newts can regenerate fully functional limbs , organs and tissues, including heart muscle, components of its nervous system and the lens of its eye, according to an article in the journal Nature. Researcher hope the ability is based on a common genetic trait and is found, even in latent form, in all animals. (Image credit: Jiri Prochzka/Shutterstock ) Many newts rely on their skin color green, black or brown to camouflage them and escape the notice of predators.

Others are marked with bright warning colors to indicate they are toxic and would not make a good meal, according to Caudata Culture. A 1966 study published in the journal Toxicon found that at least 10 species had substances called tarichatoxin and tetrodotoxin. Tetrodotoxin, or TTX, is the most poisonous nonprotein substance known to scientists and is similar to that found in pufferfish, according to Caudata Culture.

The study also cited a case that involved a man in Oregon who swallowed a newt on a dare (he had been drinking heavily). In another study, published in 1974 in the journal Copeia, newt toxin entered a puncture wound on a scientist’s index finger, and he suffered 30 minutes of numbness up the arm into the shoulder, and some accompanying nausea and light-headedness. They eat slugs, worms, small invertebrates, amphibian eggs and insects on land.

Kingdom : Animalia Subkingdom : Bilateria Infrakingdom : Deuterostomia Phylum : Chordata Subphylum : Vertebrata Infraphylum : Gnathostomata Superclass : Tetrapoda Class : Amphibia Order : Caudata Family : Salamandridae Genera : According to the study, published in Biological Science in Space, female “astronewts” were induced to lay eggs in orbit.

While salamanders and newts may initially appear similar and it can be confusing to tell them apart, they are actually incredibly different. Below, well break down the key differences between these two unique and important organism types, from appearance to behaviours and everything in-between.

Late winter through early spring in the Northern Hemisphere is the best time to see wild salamanders and newts because this is when adults are emerging from hibernation and are the most active for breeding, sometimes traveling across the land during the rain to find vernal ponds and marshes. A general trait shared amongst salamanders and newts is that they thrive in cool, moist environments, thus they are most often found living in wetland habitats such as ponds, streams, swamps and marshes.

Photo by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife , CC BY-SA 2.0 Like other amphibians, salamander and newt skin is permeable, so they absorb water and other products of the environment. Finally, some species, including the well-known fire salamander, have been in decline due to the spread of the chytrid fungus, a deadly pathogen that thrives in wet environments and infects the skin of amphibians. Photo by Rick Cameron / CC BY-NC 2.0 Salamanders and newts provide a food source to many species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and are sometimes even preyed on by other amphibians, especially when they are in their larval stage.

The genus Taricha, which includes four species of newts located in western North America, can secrete tetrodotoxin, an extremely potent neurotoxin which has can be lethal to humans who come in contact with it. An interesting fact about this group of animals is that salamanders and newts have the ability to regenerate easily lost limbs, which is a survival tactic to escape from predators.

HABITAT AND DIET

Since salamanders need to stay cool and moist to survive, those that live on land are found in shady, forested areas. They spend most of their time staying out of the sun under rocks and logs, up in trees, or in burrows they’ve dug in the damp earth. Some seek out a pool of water where they can breed and lay their eggs before returning to land. Others, like sirens, olms, and axolotls, spend their entire lives in the water.There are 16 cave-dwelling salamanders. They have very pale skin, greatly reduced eyes, and have adapted to living in complete darkness in underground pools of water.The Kaiser’s spotted newt defies typical amphibian habitat. This endangered species, also known as the emperor spotted newt or Iranian harlequin newt, lives in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran. It is found in streams and pools surrounded by arid scrubland, where water is only present for three or four months a year. Not exactly the shady, humid place you’d expect to find a newt! In late March and early April, when it begins to rain and the streams and pools fill up, Kaiser’s newts emerge to feed heartily and then find a mate. After this burst of activity, summer arrives, and they head underground, burrowing into the sandy soil and entering a state of torpor in which their heart rate and breathing slow, and they do not eat.Four months of activity a year may not seem like much, but the Kaiser’s newt definitely knows how to make the most of it.Would you want to eat something that tasted awful or hurt your mouth? Probably not! Salamanders have some special ways to keep from becoming a predator’s next meal. Most salamanders, such as the red-spotted newt, have brightly colored, poisonous skin. The bold color tells predators that the newt is not safe to eat. Many salamanders have glands on the back of the neck or on the tail. These glands can secrete a poisonous or bad-tasting liquid. Some salamanders can even shed their tail during an attack and grow a new one later. The ribbed newt has needle-like rib tips. It can squeeze its muscles to make the rib tips pierce through its skin and into its enemy, teaching it a sharp lesson! The ensantina, a California native, stands high on its legs and waves its tail to scare away danger.All salamanders are carnivores, but they are seldom in a hurry to catch their meals. Because they move more slowly than other meat eaters, salamanders tend to eat slow-moving, soft-bodied creatures such as earthworms, slugs, and snails. Larger salamanders may eat fish, crayfish, and small mammals such as mice and shrews. They might approach their target slowly, and then make a quick grab with their sharp teeth. Or they might hide and wait for a tasty meal to pass close enough to snatch. Several salamanders can flick out their tongues to catch food as it goes by.

FAMILY LIFE

Most salamanders hatch from eggs. Female salamanders that live entirely in the water lay more eggs—up to 450—than those that spend some time on land. The California newt lays a clump of 7 to 30 eggs on underwater plants or exposed roots. The eggs are protected by a toxic, gel-like membrane. Lungless salamanders such as the spiny salamander are devoted parents that share egg-guarding duties. They curl their body around the eggs and turn them over from time to time. This protects the eggs from predators and fungal infections. Some mother newts keep their eggs safe by wrapping leaves around each one as they are laid—up to 400 eggs! Salamanders in the larval stage of their development are called efts.Different salamander species have different life cycles, too. Some breed, lay their eggs, and hatch on land while others, such as some of the newts, breed and lay eggs in the water. When the eggs hatch, the larvae grow up in the water before heading to the land as adults. Still others, such as the giant salamander and the hellbender, spend all the stages of their life cycle in water. Lungless salamanders have eggs that hatch directly into small salamanders, skipping the larval stage entirely, and the axolotl lives out its aquatic life in the larval stage, never developing beyond its larval features, a condition called neoteny.

Life in Two Worlds

“The simple answer is that all newts are salamanders but not all salamanders are newts,” says herpetologist and author Whit Gibbons in an email.Salamanders are classified as amphibians. Like all other amphibians (i.e., frogs), they have backbones and three-chambered hearts.Other traits are skin-deep. Amphibians tend to lack scales, for instance. They’re also capable of breathing through several different means. Some species have lungs, some use feathery gills and many absorb oxygen straight through the skin. Employing all three methods at once isn’t unheard of.The word “amphibian” comes from a Greek term that means “double life.” Apart from the fully aquatic species, most amphibians divide their lives between land and water. Hence the name.Field guides tend to call amphibians “cold-blooded.” Unlike mammals, they can’t produce body heat internally or maintain a constant body temperature. Instead, they have to derive warmth from their environment.But “cold-blooded” is really just an informal descriptor. It’s not a label biologists use when they talk among themselves; if you want to get technical, amphibians are more accurately called “ectothermic poikilotherms.”The word “newt” is kind of informal, too. At least scientifically.Advertisement

All in the “Subfamily”

David Wake is a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley and the director of the AmphibiaWeb Project, a virtual amphibian database.”Newt is a narrow term that originates from the Middle EnglishSalamanders are divided up into 10 families. One of these is known as the Salamandridae. Widespread in Europe, the Salamandrids also reside in parts of East Asia and far-north Africa. Over in the Western Hemisphere, some species live along North America’s Pacific Coastline. Others are pretty common on the opposite side of the continent.The Salamdridae family is big enough to have subfamilies of its own. Far and away, the largest is the so-named Pleurodelinae, a group that includes 109 different species.By popular tradition, the label “newt” has been reserved for various salamanders in the Pleurodelinae subfamily.So returning to the question we posed earlier, our friend the eastern newt is a member of the Pleurodelinae. The red salamander is not.Gibbons says a lot of Eurasian newts “such as fire-bellied newts, emperor newts, warty newts, marbled newts and red-tailed knobby newts” have become popular in the pet trade.Your neighborhood pet store is less likely to carry North American newt species. According to Gibbons, those New World animals “are referred to as ‘newts’ rather than ‘salamanders’ because of general familiarity [with] the name by the populace within their geographic region.”Advertisement

Lungs and Toxins

Despite their unofficial status as a group, newts do tend to share a few key traits.Remember the red salamander (i.e.,That’s not a hard-and-fast rule: Wake says salamanders in the genus”No accounting for taste,” observes Wake.Speaking of taste, Gibbon tells us newts often harbor “poison glands in the skin that make them mildly or highly toxic to other animals, including humans.” Look no further than the Pacific newts of western North America (genus:”Amphibian skin is loaded with different kinds of toxins, the most potent being tetrodotoxin, the toxin in puffer fish,” Wake says.How potent are we talking? Tetrodotoxin (TTX for short) is more toxic to people than cyanide. More than 1,000 times more toxic, in fact.Advertisement

Newts vs. salamanders

Newts are members of the Salamandridae family, and there are over 60 species. All newts are salamanders, but not all salamanders are newts. The differences between newts and salamanders are few, according to Caudata Culture, a website for newt and salamander enthusiasts. Generally, with some exceptions, newts spend more of their adult lives in the water than salamanders. Also, there are more distinctive difference between the sexes in newts.The main distinction between salamanders and newts is how they are classified. Newts belong to the genera

Size

Newts have lizard-shaped bodies with four legs and long tails. Most have smooth and moist skin, though some species, such as rough-skinned newts have, as one might expect, rough, grainy skin. Most species have well-developed lungs, while some retain gills and are completely aquatic.With so many species, newts come in many different sizes. They are typically smaller than 8 inches (20 centimeters), according to Encyclopedia Britannica. For example, the warty newt grows to 7 inches (18 cm) and weighs 0.22 to 0.37 ounces (6.3 to 10.6 grams).

Habitat

Newts can be found all over the Northern Hemisphere in North America, Europe, Asia and north Africa. Some live on land while others live almost exclusively in water. For example, the alligator newt lives on the southern islands of Japan in swamps, forests, grasslands and croplands. The eastern red-spotted newt is found in eastern North America in ponds, lakes and marshes.

Habits

Many newts are active during the day while others are active during the night. All of them spend most of their time hunting for food or lounging in a cool area in the shade.Their mating ritual is particularly interesting. When mating season comes, the male secretes a strong pheromone to attract a female. Then, it does a little dance by swinging its tail in the air. The pheromone works so well that when a male isn’t around, females will try to mate with each other, according to a 2013 study by the Free University of Brussels. [Newt Pheromones Put Females into Mating Frenzy]

Eye of newt

Newts can regenerate fully functional limbs, organs and tissues, including heart muscle, components of its nervous system and the lens of its eye, according to an article in the journal Nature. Researcher hope the ability is based on a common genetic trait and is found, even in latent form, in all animals. Studies indicate, however, it may not be that simple because of the enormous size of the newt genome, which is 10 times larger than the human genome.

Toxic touch

Many newts rely on their skin color — green, black or brown — to camouflage them and escape the notice of predators. Others are marked with bright warning colors to indicate they are toxic and would not make a good meal, according to Caudata Culture.These newts secrete a mucus that is quite toxic. A 1966 study published in the journal Toxicon found that at least 10 species had substances called tarichatoxin and tetrodotoxin. Tetrodotoxin, or TTX, is the most poisonous nonprotein substance known to scientists and is similar to that found in pufferfish, according to Caudata Culture. It is a powerful neurotoxin that block signals from the nervous system to the muscles, so for example, it blocks the signals from your brain that tell your heart to beat.The study found that the skin of a rough-skinned newt is poisonous enough to potentially kill 25,000 mice. The study also cited a case that involved a man in Oregon who swallowed a newt on a dare (he had been drinking heavily). After a few minutes, his lips began to tingle. Over the next two hours he began to feel numb and weak and then experienced cardiopulmonary arrest. Later that day, he died, despite hospital treatment.In another study, published in 1974 in the journal Copeia, newt toxin entered a puncture wound on a scientist’s index finger, and he suffered 30 minutes of numbness up the arm into the shoulder, and some accompanying nausea and light-headedness.Some newts add insult to injury. Besides secreting the toxin, the Spanish ribbed newt and alligator newt push their ribs through their skin to pierce their victims, making sure the poison enters the attacker’s body.

Diet

Newts are carnivores. They eat slugs, worms, small invertebrates, amphibian eggs and insects on land. Tadpoles, shrimp, aquatic insects, insect larvae and mollusks are on the menu in the water. Baby newts, called larva, can feed themselves small shrimp and insect larvae they find while swimming around.

Offspring

Most newts lay eggs, and one female can lay hundreds of eggs. For example, the warty newt can lay 200 to 300 eggs, according to National Geographic. However, they lay them one at a time and attach them to aquatic plants, according to A-Z Animals. Frogs, on the other hand, lay their eggs in clumps that float close to the surface of the water. A few newt species lay their eggs on land.Newt babies, called tadpoles, resemble baby fish with feathered external gills. Much like frogs, newts evolve into their adult form. Some go from egg to larva to adult, while others evolve from egg to larva to juvenile to adult.

Conservation status

Here is the taxonomic information for newts, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS):