“Do cats eat newts?”

Kaiser’s spotted newt. (Image: Dr. Richard Bartlett via Wikipedia)


The answer to this question, like so many cat-related questions, is yes they probably will, but they really shouldn’t. (You shouldn’t either, by the way.) 

Newts come installed with a skin toxin called tetrodotoxin, designed to keep predators from eating them. Some newts, like the rough-skinned newt, are toxic enough that simply handling them can be a problem. Other newts, like the fire-bellied newt, can be handled safely (as long as you don’t have an open sore on your hand or forget to wash your hands before touching your mouth or eyes afterwards). 

Most of the time, if a predator tries to eat a newt, it will spit it out right away because the skin toxin makes the newt taste so bad. But if that predator swallows the newt anyway, the toxins will either give that predator terrible indigestion, or worst case, kill it. 

So, if you have reason to believe that your cat, dog, child, or excessively hungry adult friend has licked, snacked on, or swallowed a newt, you need to get them medical attention immediately. 

The Nine-Year-Old, plaintively: “So I can’t get a newt for a pet either?” 

Mommyo, hard-heartedly: “Nope.”

Related Links: 

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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2 Responses to “Do cats eat newts?”

  1. rayworth1973 says:

    Like every Newt in Idaho….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: “How can you tell the difference between a white weasel and an ermine?” | CATERPICKLES

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