How Long do Newts Live? [The average lifespan 21 newts]

Newts are capable of living long lives. How long a newt will live depends on many factors. For wild newts, their lifespan will depend on the environment they live in, and the predators they have to deal with. The lifespan of captive newts is mainly dependent on how well their owners take of them.

Depending on the species, newts can live anywhere from 10-15 years in the wild. However, in captivity, their lifespan can go beyond that as most of their natural threats are eliminated. Some can live up to 30, and some even longer than that.

There are over 100 species of newts around the world, so the lifespan varies between different species. However, captive newts almost always outlive wild newts provided they are cared for properly.

The Lifespan of 21 Different Newts

There are several species of newt and the average lifespan varies among them.  Below, is a more specific chart for several newt species and their average lifespan.

Type of Newt Estimated lifespan in the Wild Maximum recorded Longevity  in Captivity
Rough-skinned Newt   12- 20   30
Red-bellied Newt   15-20   31
California Newt    15-20   24
Sierra Newt    15-20   25
Red-spotted Newt    12-15   20
Striped Newt    12-15   21
Japanese Fire-bellied Newt    10-15   40
Chinese Fire-bellied Newt    10-15   22
Sword-tail Newt    10-15   36
Alpine Newt    15-20   30
Paddle-tail Newt    15-20   20
Spanish Ribbed Newt    10-15   22
Chinese warty Newt     10-12   22
Anderson’s crocodile Newt     15-20   30
Great crested Newt     15-20   25
Northern  crested Newt     15-20   28
Southern Crested Newt     10-15   17
Smooth/Common Newt     10-15   20
Marbled Newt     15-20   25
Palmate Newt     10-15   17
Carpathian Newt     10-15   Unknown

Keep in mind that these numbers vary and are not set in stone. Some newts may be able to live longer than their longest recorded lifespan.

For example, the Rough-skinned newt, California newt, Red-bellied newt, and Sierra Newt all belong to the same genus but have different recorded lifespans in captivity.

Newt Life Cycle

Most newts (not all) go through three distinct life stages: an aquatic larval stage, a terrestrial juvenile or “eft”  phase, and a semi-aquatic adult stage.

Newt Life Cycle

They start as fully aquatic larvae with feathery gills and stay this way for about 5 months. They then go through a process known as metamorphosis in which they lose their gills, develop lungs and transform into juvenile “efts” able to live on land.

The juvenile phase can be as short as a few months, to as long as two years.  They then mature into semi-aquatic adults and remain this way for the rest of their lives. The adult stage is the longest part of their lives.

Some Newts don’t go through the terrestrial juvenile phase. They stay aquatic until they transform into adults.

Newt Lifespan: Captive vs Wild

In the wild, newts are at the mercy of the elements and are preyed on by snakes, birds, raccoons, weasels, fish, and even other amphibians.

In addition, a wild newt getting a simple injury could be fatal. If the injury doesn’t kill it directly, it could reduce its ability to find food, or escape predators.

Most of these problems are eliminated when newts are kept in captivity. They don’t have to worry about predators and have a seemingly never-ending supply of food. This makes captive newts able to live far longer than those in the wild.

Factors That Affect a Newts Lifespan in Captivity

Most health problems in captive newts are caused by nutritional deficiencies or poor hygiene. Newts are susceptible to wounds, and these can easily become infected in unclean conditions.

In addition, a newt kept in dirty conditions can easily develop a fungal infection which could ultimately be fatal. 

How Enclosure Affects Life Expectancy

A captive newt will need an enclosure that most replicates its natural environment. Housing a newt in the wrong enclosure can lead to several health problems that will affect its life expectancy.

For instance, adult red-spotted newts are highly aquatic, so housing them in an enclosure without a sufficient water area will negatively their welfare.

In addition, different species of newt have very specific requirements in regards to lighting, temperature, substrate, tank mates, and other things.

Failing to meet the specific housing requirements of a captive newt will dramatically affect its life expectancy.

Also, some newts are extremely aggressive and will actively attack and kill newts of other species if housed together. For example, housing eastern newts in the same tank as Spanish ribbed newts is very likely to lead to violence between the two.

Other housing issues include,

Hygiene:  A dirty environment is a perfect place for bacteria and fungus to build up. Poor hygiene can lead to a newt developing skin lesions and other infections, negatively affecting its life expectancy.

The easiest way to avoid dirt and debris buildup in the enclosure is simply to use a larger enclosure. The larger the area, the longer it takes for waste to build up.

How Diet Affects Life Expectancy

Like us humans, newts need to eat a balanced diet to remain strong and healthy. In the wild, newts get all the nutrition they need from the wide variety of prey they eat. In captivity, their diet is only limited to only a few things.

Giving a captive newt a diet that does not meet all its nutritional requirements will dramatically affect its life expectancy. For example, a newt that survives on a diet of dried mealworms alone will most likely be malnourished because of its poor diet.

Also, regularly feeding a newt energy-dense foods (such as waxworms or pinkie mice) may lead to obesity. Obesity in turn leads to several health problems that shorten the lifespan of the newt.

For this reason, a captive newt should be fed a varied and balanced diet, so it remains healthy and lives a long life. Check out this post I wrote on the different foods you can feed a newt in captivity.

How Handling Affects Life Expectancy

Unlike your dog or cat, newts do not need hugs and kisses to feel loved. They have semi-permeable skin that is easily harmed by oils and salts from human hands. They can also be harmed by other substances such as sunblock, lotions, and mosquito repellents.

For this reason, newts (and other amphibians) should never be handled unless it’s absolutely necessary. They should be treated as display pets, much like fish in an aquarium.

Regularly handing a newt with your bare hands can damage its skin. The skin damage could then lead to secondary skin infection, and even bone and muscle injuries. All these factors could dramatically shorten the life of a captive newt. 

Health Problems to Look Out for in Aging Newts

Newts can suffer from a variety of illnesses and parasitic infections. They are particularly vulnerable as they age and their immune systems weaken.

They can get an infection known as ‘mouth rot.’ However, this is not the same as the same bacterial infection (Infectious stomatitis) typically seen in reptiles. More commonly, mouth rot in newts is simply necrotic tissue infected with bacteria or fungi.

In the advanced stages of the infection, the newt’s throat may swell up so badly that it may not be able to close its mouth.

Another condition to watch out for is “bloat”, in which the newt’s torso and neck swell up. However this is not a disease in itself, rather it is a symptom that could be a sign of several diseases.

Other symptoms that could be signs of disease are bubbles under the skin, loss of balance, deformities and soft bones, and paralysis.

All of these conditions/symptoms and many more will require medical attention so your newt lives a long happy life.

In summary, a healthy newt should

  • Eat regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Have healthy skin and clear eyes

An unhealthy newt may have

  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Distressed breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Cloudy or dull eyes
  • Skin lesions
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Poor balance


Newts are a pet you can have for a pretty significant part of your life. If you want to enjoy a decade, two, or even three with your newt, then giving it proper care is very important. Give your newt the right type of habitat, food, care, and track its welfare and health so it can live a long and healthy life.