Alpine Newt Caresheet
The following caresheet is based on my own experience.
Alpine Newt Carehseet
The alpine newt is a relatively small species, in general they usually have a blue base colour though other colours are sometimes found. The natural habitat of the alpine newt is mountainous areas though some can be found in lowlands places. They spend a large amount of the year aquatically. In the wild they usually return to water after hibernation in February and many will stay until they go into hibernation again. There are many populations that hibernate aquatically and there are also several neotenic populations.
Terrestrial vivariums can be as complex or as simple as needed. Many newts will prefer aquatic setups, so enclosures should be tailored to their needs. Out of my group of 10 alpine newts, only 3 of them choose to leave water for any extended periods of time, including hibernation. The other 7 remain aquatic throughout the year, they are all of the nominate form , Ichthyosaura Alpestris Alpestris. Size should be determined as appropriate for the amount of newts kept. Storage boxes are useful for terrestrial setups, I have a 60L terrestrial setup for my 10, however this is only used for hibernation. Sterile compost/soil can be used as long as there are no added chemicals. Moss and pieces of bark are much appreciated for hiding amongst. The enclosure should be kept damp but not wet, spray bottles can be useful for this also sphagnum moss can retain large amounts of water. Temperatures should not exceed 24'c as this will lead to stress and illness, the ideal temperature range is 14-18'c, though they will tolerate it up to 22'c. This applies to both aquatic and terrestrial stages.
As the alpine newt is a very aquatic species, so an aquatic setup is appreciated by them. As mentioned above, my group is very aquatic and rarely leave water but this will not be the same for every newt, especially as juveniles of some subspecies are very hydrophobic. A starting volume for any amount of newts should be around 40 litres, this helps to stop sudden changes in temperature and to avoid high concentrations of waste in smaller aquariums. 40 litres would suit 3 or 4 newts, roughly another 10 litres is required per newt after that. There are a few options for substrate; fine sand, large gravel or slate. No substrate is also an option. Large amounts of aquatic plants are greatly appreciated, they can be used as a filter substitute as these newts will not cope well with flowing water. Floating mats of aquatic Plants are used for resting on, so can be added to the aquarium. Hornwort, Elodea Densa and Vallisneria species all seem to work well in cool aquariums.
Worms work well as a staple diet, they contain everything the newts need to keep healthy. In my experience Alpine newts also enjoy occasional crickets, defrosted bloodworms and tubifex, amongst other insects.
Successful breeding usually comes after a hibernation period of 2-4 months. In my experience, more eggs are produced after a longer hibernation period, but this may not always be the case. Diet and feeding play a big part in this. Keeping the newts on land during hibernation also helps to encourage breeding during spring. When the newts are brought out of hibernation they should be placed on whatever land is allowed in their aquatic enclosure, so that they can make their own way to the water. Courtship will commence almost immediately, eggs are normally found within a couple of weeks after ending hibernation.
Care of Larvae
Eggs usually hatch around 3 weeks after laying. Larvae will require tiny live food after absorbing their yolk sack, usually after 2-3 days. I find baby brine shrimp, Daphnia pulex and microworms work well as starter food. After a week or two they will take larger foods such as daphnia magna, small bloodworms and pieces of tubifex. Once legs have grown they will take dead foods. They enjoy defrosted bloodworms, daphnia, chopped earthworms and sometimes pellets. This is not to say they should no longer be given live food, as I would certainly give preference to live foods. Metamorphosis happens 3-6 months after hatching. During this time they are susceptible to drowning, so care should be taken to avoid this. Juveniles tend not to eat for a week or so after morphing. Some subspecies will be happy to return to water soon after metamorphosis, others will not.
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