Paddle Tail Newt Care Sheet

"Tokie" - My Paddle Tail Newt :)
"Tokie" - My Paddle Tail Newt :)

Paddle tale newts (Pachytriton labiatus, Pachytriton brevipes) are hardy, unique pets fit for children and amphibian lovers alike. They are commonly confused in pet stores as "Fire-belly Newts" because they share similar characteristics, yet are a completely different species of newt with different needs. If you are considering getting one of these cute, quite lively and entertaining creatures for yourself, please consider the needs and care prior to making your move. No two animals are alike and there is no such thing as a low maintenance pet if you want them to live happy, healthy, long lives.

Basic Information

  • Natural Environment : Southern & Central China
  • Size (average) : 6 - 7 inches
  • Lifespan : 10 years (average in captivity)
  • Appearance : (Commonly seen in the US) Smooth, dark brown to black skin with orange to red under belly, often seen in blotch patterns; Flat heads with a slight under bite which helps them eat; Short stubby legs; Long tail that comes to a compressed, rounded paddle toward the end.
  • Personality : Aggressive to other newts, best to keep them housed single.

Habitat/Cage Set Up

  • 10 gallons per newt minimum.
  • No lighting needed.
  • Water temperature should be around 50 to 65 degrees, Anything over 65 may cause health complications that lead to death.
  • 4 to 6 inch deep water is all they need to be happy. Deeper water is okay so long as it is sloped (like a beach), in which case, a larger tank will be necessary.
  • It is not a good idea to house your newt with fish, unless for feeding. You may not think so, but they live the happiest, healthiest lives when they are housed alone.
  • One hiding area is needed per newt. They will not be happy unless they are able to hide and sleep somewhere dark.
  • If you plan to feed the newt in tank, a quite filter will be needed or water changed every week.
  • Best substrate is smooth river rocks large enough that the newt may not accidentally digest them.
  • Fake plants are okay to use, so long as they are meant for aquariums.


  • Worms (Wax,Black,Blood,Earth), Small fish, Dry food pellets, Small land insects and other meat sources. All food should be small, otherwise cut into small pieces to prevent fighting if more then one newt occupies the tank. If fed in tank, remove all uneaten food. *TIP* Use a small glass jar, big enough for the newt to fit in, to keep food in one area of tank for easy removal.
  • Every newt is different with how much they are willing to eat. On average, every other day or 3 days a week is fine. Over eating can cause health problems.

*** Hibernation or fasting is not uncommon with these newts. If your newt appears healthy and lively, yet is not taking food, be patient and keep offering him/her food. They can go several months without food. Some will prefer to hide under a large rock during this period. You can also try offering other types of food as he/she may have lost interest in his/her basic diet. Contact a reptile specialist is he/she appears weak or ill while not accepting food.

If you need anymore information or have a question, feel free to leave it below!

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Comments 17 comments

Deigo 4 years ago

Thanks it helped a lot

ii3rittles profile image

ii3rittles 4 years ago Author

Glad it did! =)

David Albert 4 years ago

Just got one of these guys. Thanks for this info. I am keeping him with a few other amphibians but it's a pretty large tank. The shop where I got him kept him with other newts for over a year so I suspect he's used to it. So far so good...I really love how he waggles his tail...he seems to do it when he gets excited about food which is fun to watch.

ii3rittles profile image

ii3rittles 4 years ago Author

Thanks for the comment! I love the tail wag as well. As with everything, just be careful with mixing species, feed them in different areas of the tank or take them out and feed them in separate en-closers. Taking them out will actually keep the tank cleaning. I fed mine blood worms and they are MESSY!

DB 4 years ago

We have had our Paddle tail newt for about 4 years, he has done very well, but just developed what looks like a torn tail. The end of his tail is frayed and white. Do you have any suggestions as to a cure, or medication that might be put in his tank. I have already done a water change.

zaton profile image

zaton 4 years ago from California

Really nice hub - I enjoyed the video too. I'm a little confused by what is considered a newt, however; is this a more general class of salamander or a class of animal unto itself? Anyway - great hub!

ii3rittles profile image

ii3rittles 4 years ago Author

Thanks! & yes, it's a small salamander.

grumpyguppy 4 years ago

i have one of these guys and he rocks!!!!!

Michael 4 years ago

yes, i have a small question my paddle tail as small bump on its skin and small blood clots on his body. I was wondering if you know what could be causing this?

ii3rittles profile image

ii3rittles 4 years ago Author

Do you have fish living with it? Most fish release toxins that can be harmful to other smaller aquatic animals. What kind of diet is he/she on? Is it still eating normally? The most common causes I can think of without any info is a vitamin deficiency, a skin reaction to toxin in the water, it is underweight, may have been damaged by a filter or it has some form of acne. If it is eating normal, and acting as it usually does... Don't worry too much. They let you know when something is wrong by acting out of character.

Lark 3 years ago

Hello there!

I have a 8 and a half year old Pachytriton labiatus. Recently the brilliance of his belly pattern has faded and he has begun shedding quite often. Is he unwell or simply elderly?

Lexi 3 years ago

How long will a newt survive in a tropical tank? My dad got one for his thirty gallon, and we didn't know they lived in cold water!

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ii3rittles 3 years ago Author

Lexi -

The do not do well with tropical tanks as most of them are 80+ degrees. Typically, these guys do best in water around 60 degrees. He will be susceptible to disease and may have issue digesting his food as well in anything warmer then 65 degrees. Not to mention, it is NOT a good idea to house these guys with fish. My newt died because of that. She became sick from the fish. Fish are very very dirty creatures and the skin of these newts, and most newts, is very very sensitive.

ron 2 years ago

What is the phlyum and class order and family????

Lexi 2 years ago

By any chance do you know the Phylum,order,and family of the newt?????

marissa berg 2 years ago

what if they live with other newts and fish? I may have also left him without a filter since it broke 2 months ago. :)

ii3rittles profile image

ii3rittles 2 years ago Author

Marissa -

These specific kind of newts do okay in a one male to two female ratio (like most animals) but can be very very aggressive to other species. Because of their sensitive skin, it is not a good idea to house them with fish, it will risk their health. Also, a filter is not necessary with these guys. Room temp, still clean water is fine. You just have to change the water once a month for one newt, and for every newt after, knock off a week. So 2 newts would be every 3 weeks, 3 newts every 2 weeks, 4+ once a week. Filter chemicals can effect their skin as well which is why I never recommend using them.

Ron & Lexi -

Order: Caudata. Family: Salamandridae. Genus: Pachytriton

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