Posted by: deirdrea | December 1, 2008

Sexing the newts

, originally uploaded by trisheroverton.

I’m starting this blog with another beautiful photo, taken by trisherverton, of a little snowbird on a cedar branch. Just yesterday, I was up at my parents’ watching a large flock of these dark eyed juncos, and one fat gray squirrel, hunting for seeds in the ice and snow. And today it is like spring again — and I’m back at work. That’s November for you!

Anyway, I hope that everyone who celebrates had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a lovely First Sunday of Advent. And that everybody had a great weekend.

Now that we’re all back, I thought I’d address the Youth of Mount Kisco’s most pressing question lately. Here it is:

Are the newts girls or boys?

Well, it can be tricky to tell with newts sometimes, especially if they are young, as ours appear to be. But I’ve done a bit of research (of course, I wanted to know, too!) And here’s how you tell.

1. Find out what kind of newts you have. With some species of newts, sex differences are very subtle. But we are lucky, as we have Chinese fire bellied newts!

2. The cloaca of a male Chinese fire bellied newt will be larger and rounder than that of a female.

3. Therefore, I can deduce that Lazy and Crazy are both boys. (Unless I am sadly mistaken — which could happen! ).

4. But, I’m fairly certain I’m right. And if you would like a fuller explanation, with great photographs, check out Jennifer Macke’s Web site on sexing caudates. It’s a wonderful site, with clear explanations and great photos — well worth a visit!

So that’s it for this afternoon! Keep checking back for more news of
Lazy and Crazy — or let me know what else you might like me to write about!




  1. Thank you for visiting my blog and for leaving your kind words with me.
    I’ve had no experience with newts, though really enjoyed a spring with migrating salamanders–what adorable subjects to follow!

  2. Thank you, Nina!

    It must have been fascinating actually studying salamanders in that way!

    I agree that they are fantastic subjects — very cute (though fierce)!

    In one sense, these little newts were a “mistake.” I ordered them from a science company that generally works in close cooperation with the DEP, so I thought I would be getting Eastern spotted newts. I generally only keep native species for the children, so that they can be released into the wild at the proper time.

    But these little fellows are very cute and easy to care for, so I won’t mind keeping them, after all. 😉

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