The Japanese Fire Belly Newt or 'Japanese Triton Salamander' (Cynops pyrrhogaster) is a common Asian newt. It is commonly confused with the Chinese Fire Belly Newt (Cynops orientalis) due to similarities in coloring and size, and most newts sold as Japanese Fire Bellys are likely to be the more commonly collected Chinese Fire Belly instead.
This newt is usually 9 - 14 cm (3.5 - 5.5 in.) long and can be distinguished from its Chinese relative by its larger size, rough, pebbly skin and distinctparotoid glands. They are typically brown to black above, often with red specks or spots, and orange to crimson below, usually with a blotched darker pattern. Males can be distinguished from females by their swollen cloacas, and male newts of this species will often become a blue iridescent sheen and smoother skin during the breeding season.
In the wild this species of newt lives on the islands of Honshū, Shikoku, and Kyūshū. It lives in clear, cool bodies of water, usually ponds, ditches, pools, or lakes. There are reportedly six subspecies or races found through the Japanese islands. These six races are Atsumi, Hiroshima, Kanto, Sasayama, and Touhoku. Each race originating from the region of Japan they are named after.
These newts are poisonous in the wild, however animals bred in captivity "may" lose their toxicity. The skin of the wild animals contains Tetrodotoxin(TTX), which is one of the most effective non-peptide toxins known to man. It is a neurotoxin, which has no known antidote and can cause death by suffocation in as little as six hours after ingestion. It is speculated that the toxin could be formed by environmental bacteria, and this could be the reason that some newts in captivity have a lower toxicity than their wild counterparts.
In the UKEdit
Escaped during the pet trade