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?Red-bellied Newt
Conservation status: Least concern
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Lissamphibia
Order: Caudata/Urodela
Family: Salamandridae
Genus: Taricha
Species: T. rivularis
Binomial name
Taricha rivularis
Twitty, 1935
Red-bellied Newt distribution
Red-bellied Newt distribution

The Red-bellied newt (Taricha rivularis) is a newt, native to coastal woodlands in northern California, which is terrestrial for most of its life.

Physical descriptionEdit

The Red-bellied Newt, when fullgrown, measures between 2.75 to 3.5 inches from its nose to its vent, and between 5.5 to 7.5 inches from nose to its tail. It has grainy skin, and is brownish black on top with a tomato red underbelly.[1] It can be distinguished from other coastal newts by its red belly and a lack of yellow in its eyes. Breeding males develop smooth skin and a flattened tail.

Distribution and habitatEdit

The Red-bellied newts lives in California along the coast from Bodega in Sonoma county, inland to Lower lake, and north to Honeydew, Humboldt county.[2] It lives in coastal woodlands, especially in redwood forests.[1]

Reproduction and ecology Edit

Red-bellied newts lay their eggs in fast flowing streams or rocky rivers. Newts begin their lives as aquatic larvae similar to tadpoles, though elongated and with external gills. Once they have matured into the adult form, which takes about four months, and usually happens in August,[3] they leave the water until the fifth year of their life.[1] Then, as early as January or February, the males start congregating at streambanks. One to three weeks later the females join them and the newts mate.[1] The females lay their eggs in about 12 streamlined clusters with six to sixteen eggs each.[4] They usually lay them on the bottoms of rocks, or on branches leaning into the stream.[2] When the adults leave the stream, instead of moving directly uphill, they move at ana angle that leads them somewhat upstream.[5] The females, unlike the males, do not breed every year.[3]Red-bellied newts can live for up to fifteen years.[4]


Red-bellied newts have a remarkable homing ability. As they always go back to the same spot on the stream, they will make a great effort to go there. They will find their way over several miles of rugged terrain to get back to the spot.[6] It is likely that smell is responsible for the homing ability.[7]


Red-bellied newts have a brownish black topside to avoid being noticed. When that fails, and they are seen and disturbed, they pull their head and tail back to reveal their bright red underside.[1] This serves as a warning to potential predators, as red-bellied newts have enough of a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin in their skin to easily kill an adult human[3], or 7,500 mice.[8] Like other newts, Red-bellied newts have the ability to regenerate several body parts, including their limbs, eyes, hearts, intestines, and upper and lower jaws, and damaged spinal cords.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Taricha rivularis - Red-bellied Newt; Accessed 9/16/06
  2. 2.0 2.1 Stebbins, Robert C.; Amphibians and Reptiles of California; University of California Press, Berkley, 1972: pg 52
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 [1]; Accessed 11/4/06
  4. 4.0 4.1 [2]; accessed 9/19/06
  5. Twitty, V., Grant, D., and Anderson, O. (1967) "Amphibian Orientation: An Unexpected Observation" Science 155(3760):352 - 353
  6. Twitty, V., Grand, D., and Anderson, O. (1964) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 51(1):51-58
  7. Grant, D., Anderson, O., and Twitty, V. (1968) "Homing Orientation by Olfaction in Newts (Taricha rivularis)" Science 160(3834):1354 - 1356
  8. [3] Accessed 1/10/07
  9.; Odelberg, S. Accessed 2007-01-24
Database entry includes a range map and justification for why this species is of least concern

See also Edit

External linksEdit

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