What Are The Differences Between Salamanders And Newts?

What are the differences between a newt and a salamander?
What are the differences between a newt and a salamander?

Newts and salamanders are two types of amphibians that share numerous characteristics both in behavior and appearance. For example, newts and salamanders have elongated bodies with long tails that resemble lizards. Both newts and salamanders have exceptional regeneration abilities where they can regrow body parts that they have lost. Some species of newt can even regenerate their spinal cords, intestines, hearts, and eyes. However, the two types of amphibians also have differences which are used to tell them apart.


Salamanders are amphibians that are classified under the order Urodela. Salamanders vary in size with the smallest being the one-inch long minute salamander. On the other end of the spectrum is the largest of all amphibians, the six-foot-long Chinese giant salamander. These amphibians are found in North America, Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa, where they inhabit wet habitats. Some species of salamanders have evolved to adapt to aquatic life and, therefore, do not develop hind legs. Other species which live on trees in their adulthood have webbed feet which have excellent suction capabilities.


Newts are amphibians of the Pleurodelinae subfamily. Like all amphibians, newts spend the early stages of their lives in water after hatching as larvae. Newt larvae feed on small invertebrates and other larvae and take a couple of months to undergo metamorphosis and transform into adults. Upon reaching adulthood, the newts, which are also known as efts, will take on a terrestrial lifestyle and only return to the water to breed. To facilitate life on land, adult newts develop lungs to replace their external gills which they absorb. Newts inhabit four of the world’s continents with significant populations being found in Africa, North America, Asia, and Europe. Due to their docile temperament, newts are a favorite pet in many households in North America and Europe. However, the toxins on the newts’ skins make it dangerous to handle the pets.

Differences Between Salamanders And Newts

Physical appearance: newts have brightly-colored skin which is an indication of the presence of toxins on their skins. In contrast, most salamanders are dull in appearance.

Skin texture: the texture of the skins on the two amphibians is also different, with newts being covered with warts which give their skins a bumpy texture. Salamanders, on the other hand, have smooth, moist skin.

Habits: while salamanders have a purely aquatic life, newts alternate between a terrestrial and aquatic existence.

Number of limbs: all adult newts are four-limbed, something that cannot be said of all salamanders with some aquatic species having vestigial rear limbs or having none at all. Examples of such species are the amphiumas and sirens.

Threats To These Organisms

Both newts and salamanders face a growing threat to their existence which is caused by human activity. Destruction of their habitats and environmental pollution are the main destructive human activities linked to the decline in the population of many species. One species of newt, the Yunnan Lake newt, recently became extinct. Other species including the Montseny brook newt and the Edough ribbed newt are threatened and are at great risk of joining the Yunnan Lake newt in extinction.


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