We all want to keep pets. However, it does not always seem plausible to keep a dog or a cat even if we ourselves are more than ready to shoulder the responsibility. The problem, as is most common in apartments in big cities, is the lack of space and the objection of flatmates and neighbors about having a pet. This, even though a problem which loos large over the urban life in general, can be somewhat alleviated by adopting what we can call apartment pets. Apartment pets can vary in genus- they can be rodents or reptiles or even mammals, but one which unites them into one single category is their small size. So, to put it simply, apartment pets are very similar to pocket pets, are easy to carry and can kept without letting the entire housing colony know. Although hamsters, rats, mice, chinchillas ,degus and gerbils are considered popular apartment pets, people who have a thing for reptiles and amphibians but do not have the time and space for a snake and the desire to house a common toad can opt for Fire bellied newts. Fire bellied newts, contrary to popular belief, are easily available in pet shops that house more than cats and dogs.
Fire bellied newts usually belong to the genus cynops, and the most available kind is called the Chinese fire bellied newts or Cynops Orientalis. You might also find them named variously as the oriental fire bellied newts or the dwarf fire bellied newts. Another variety, though not that common is the Japanese fire bellied newts or Cynops Pyrrhogaster. Both of these varieties show an alarming similarity in their appearance. They range from dark brown to black with the occasional;y contrasting fiery reddish orange markings on the belly. These markings are what you can call the newts’s self defense mechanism since these markings produce potent skin toxins which wards off potential predators. The main difference between a Chinese and a Japanese fire bellied newt is that the Japanese one can handle a larger prey while content with a little space to live in.
I will talk about housing a fire bellied newt in the next article. For now, I am limiting myself to the food habits of a newt in captivity. You can give it an assortment of bloodworms, frozen or live, according to what you are more comfortable with, chopped earthworms, which you can chop yourself or buy chopped ones from the pet shop, brine shrimp, glass shrimp, daphnia ans also freeze-dried tubifex cubes. Quite a meal, I must say! If you fail to find the above mentioned newt food, you might just consider looking for frozen bloodworms since they are the most available of the lot. Bigger shops will, I imagine, be keeping these since fire bellied newts are fairly common with people desiring to keep amphibians as pets, and are thus variously available. If you find their food habits a bit yucky , and I am sure this is not a very uncommon feeling considering their peculiar( to us, at least) dietary preferences, you might oft for floating reptile or amphibians sticks, more commonly known by the name of Repto-Min. However, do not be cocksure that your pet newt will be okay with this because more often than not, fire- bellied newts reject this food and wait till their choice of food is provided. They are very resilient creatures, and will not budge till they get what they want!
If you are more inclined to adopting a Japanese fire bellied newt, which, as I said earlier, are more used to hunting for larger plays, you can consider feeding them feeder guppies. This is recommended only if you are comfortable with giving your newt live food, and are okay with some bloodshed. For trust me, blood will be spilled if you introduce a guppy or any such smaller small fish into the aquarium! There is a very practical reason for the popularity of the fire bellied newt as an ideal apartment pet apart from the obvious ones that they are less vulnerable and therefore need less tending or looking after. You can take a lucky guess: it is something that makes it somewhat akin to a goldfish. Well…what do you think that is? Ta da!You do not have to feed your pet everyday if, luckily, your pet is a fire bellied newt who can live for two to three days without food, and unlike goldfish, you do not have to worry about their dying on you if you fail to feed them. They do not require to looked after and they do not really have predators, unless in the wilderness. You might want to do a little experiment and decrease or increase the intake of food to witness at what rate it is going plumper or thinner. Also, you must keep in mind, and this is actually a common knowledge, that it is always better to underfeed than overfeed. Another reason to not overfeed your fire bellied newt in particular is because the excess food left uneaten or undigested causes the production of toxins which builds up in the tank, making a poisonous habitat of an otherwise compliant place.
Fire bellied newts are rewarding pets if you are not a person who wants to cuddle your pets. This does not mean that these newts are unfriendly. In fact, they are quite amiable once they know you are to be trusted. They can look after themselves and do not require constant vigil. To keep it short, they are undoubtedly the ideal apartment pets.