New York, United States
Durban, South Africa
Other name: Iberian Ribbed Newt;
Sharp Ribbed Newt; Sharp-ribbed Salamander; Gallipato
Scientific name: Pleurodeles waltl
Type: Newts / Salamanders
Habitat / Place of Origin: Pleurodeles waltl is native to cool, clean, and deep pools of water and streams in Spain, Portugal and Morocco. The Iberian Ribbed Newt can be found in a array of aquatic environments as these newts generally are fully aquatic. They are rarely on land unless migrating because their pool of water has dried up or has become inhabitable. Some may burrow in the mud and remain there in aestivation until the next rainfall. According to the BBC, "When attacked, the Spanish ribbed newt pushes out its ribs until they pierce through its body, exposing a row of bones that act like poisonous barbs. The newt has to force its bones through its skin every time it is attacked, say scientists, who have described the form and function of the barbs in detail. "When teased or attacked by a predator, [the newt] secretes a poisonous milky substance on to the body surface. The combination of the poisonous secretion and the ribs as 'stinging' tools is highly effective," says Heiss. The impact on any predator can be striking, particularly if they try to bite the newt or pick it up using their mouth."
Size and Coloration: Iberian Ribbed Newts are very robust with thick bodies, arms, legs, and tails. They are large and if kept properly, can reach up to 12 inches with most averaging at 8-9 inches. Their tails are usually longer than the body length and are laterally flat. Coloration varies but usually the body is a dark grey or brown with irregular blotches of darker grey or black. Some may be one solid color. The belly color is darker but usually the same color as the blotches. There are two rows of yellow to orange dots that run down the spine, usually for the length of the abdomen behind the fore and hind limbs. These mark the paratoid glands as well as where they can push out there rib tips. See temperament for more information about these rib tips.
Caging: A 20 gallon fully aquatic planted aquarium is best for 1-4 newts. If more are being housed, tank size must increase. Single individuals may live in a planted 10 gallon, but preferably a 20 gallon.
Captive Care: Water temperatures should be kept between 65-72F. Substrate could be gravel that is large enough that the newt can not eat it, sand, or left plain. Live aquatic plants must be added to the water as well as a floating land mass in case of weak or stressed newts. A filter must be used to help keep water clean. They can tolerate slow moving or more rapid flows so any filter should be fine. Under gravel filters work best.
Breeding: Breeding season can be brought on by raising water levels, increasing light intensity, increasing temperatures, and increased day time hours. With many captives, water levels being increased can trick them into breeding. During courtship the male will grab the female from underneath holding her by her arms. The male will have large black nuptial pads on his arms that will allow him to hold her arms. Eventually he will release a spermatophore and will drag the female over it. Later, the female will lay between 100 - 1000 eggs depending on her health, size, and age. Larvae should be moved into a different fully aquatic enclosure and reared at 70-72F with the best temperature being as close to 71F as possible.
Diet: These newts are opportunistic feeders and should be fed a variety that includes (but not limited to) shrimp pellets, chopped earth worms, other worms, newt pellets, turtle pellets, and other invertebrates. Larvae should be offered blood or black worms, daphnia, and other very small foods.
Temperament: The Iberian Ribbed Newt gets its name by the ridges along it’s abdomen which, if threatened, will eject it’s toxins as well as its sharp tipped ribs. If something was to grab this newt, it would end up getting a mouthful of poison as well as being punctured by the protruding ribs. In captivity, these newts rarely resort to this defense mechanism however. Handling should obviously be kept at the very minimum and only needed during routine maintenance.