Tylototriton shanjing, Mandarin newt, Emperor newt or Mandarin salamander


The tangerine newt is a rare and beautiful amphibian from the newt family that lives in the mountainous regions of China. Its name comes from its bright coloring, reminiscent of tangerine and black tea. This newt is also called the imperial dragon due to its impressive dragon-like appearance. This is a highly toxic newt, the rows of orange warts along its back are poison glands.

In this article we will tell you everything about the tangerine newt: its description, behavior, its meaning and protection, and also give some interesting facts about it.


Description of tangerine newt

As mentioned above, this colorful creature has several names: Tylototriton shanjing, Mandarin newt, Emperor newt or Mandarin salamander. The tangerine newt belongs to the class of amphibians, the order of caudates, the family of newts, the genus Tylototriton. It was first described in 1988 by Chinese scientists based on materials collected in Yunnan province. Since then, it has also been discovered in Guizhou and Sichuan provinces.

The imperial newt has an elongated body with short limbs and a long tail. It can reach 20 cm in length. His skin is smooth and moist, covered with small bumps. His eyes are large and bulging. It has a ribbed orange head. A single orange ridge runs along the back and continues along the tail. Its color is very bright and contrasting: the body is black with orange spots, the crest and tips of the limbs are orange, the belly is black with orange stripes.

The tangerine newt has weak sexual dimorphism, that is, differences between males and females. However, females are often larger than males.

The tangerine newt lives in the mountainous regions of China at an altitude of 1000 to 2500 meters above sea level. It prefers to live in wooded areas close to bodies of water such as streams, ponds, swamps and rice fields. It leads a semi-aquatic lifestyle, spending part of its time on land and part in the water. It is active in the warm season, and in the cold season it hibernates in shelters under stones or plants. It can make seasonal migrations between different habitats depending on the weather and water availability.

The tangerine newt's bright colors may make it look like easy prey, but the top of its vertebrae and skull have particularly thick bone, making it difficult to bite. In addition, when the newt is captured, the tips of the ribs will squeeze out the poison from the glands on its back.

Interesting fact

Emperor newts have enough toxin to kill approximately 7500 mice.

Although these newts are venomous, they are generally harmless to humans as long as they are handled with care.

Tylototriton shanjing, Mandarin newt, Emperor newt or Mandarin salamander



Behavior of the tangerine newt

The tangerine newt is primarily nocturnal and is usually difficult to spot. It is territorial and defends its habitat from rivals. It communicates with other newts using visual, chemical and tactile signals.

The mandarin newt typically feeds on small invertebrates in its environment, such as crickets and worms. It can also use its poisonous defense by secreting a secretion containing toxins from the skin glands. This secretion can cause irritation, inflammation or even paralysis in predators or competitors.

The tangerine newt breeds during the warm season, usually from May to August. Males lure females with their bright colors and crest. They may also fight among themselves for the right to mate with females. Mating takes place in water, where the male gives the female his spermatophore – a packet of sperm. The female takes it into her cloaca and fertilizes her eggs. She lays 50 to 200 eggs on aquatic plants or rocks. The eggs are yellowish in color and surrounded by a protective shell. The larvae hatch after 2–3 weeks and live in the water, feeding on zooplankton. They have external gills and a caudal fin. They transform into adults after 2–3 months, losing their gills and gaining lungs.

Tylototriton shanjing, Mandarin newt, Emperor newt or Mandarin salamander



Meaning of the imperial tritone

The emperor newt plays an important role in the ecosystem, being one of the links in the food chain. It is food for some predators such as snakes, birds and small mammals. It also controls the population of its prey, preventing it from becoming overcrowded.

The mandarin newt is subject to threats from humans, such as destruction and degradation of its habitat, introduction of invasive species, illegal trade, and use in traditional medicine. All these factors lead to a decline in numbers and loss of genetic diversity of this species. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the tangerine newt is included in the Red List of Threatened Species and is assessed as Vulnerable (VU).

The tangerine newt can also be kept in captivity, such as in zoos, terrariums or aquariums. However, this requires special conditions and care, such as:

  • Providing sufficient space, clean water, suitable temperature, humidity and lighting;
  • Selection of compatible species and individuals, avoidance of stress and aggression;
  • Compliance with sanitary standards, prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries;
  • Providing varied and balanced food enriched with vitamins and minerals;
  • Stimulate natural behavior, including mating and reproduction.
Tylototriton shanjing, Mandarin newt, Emperor newt or Mandarin salamander



Interesting Facts

The tangerine newt has unusual behavioral characteristics that make it unique and attractive to study. Below we will give some interesting facts about him.

  • The tangerine newt can change its color depending on its mood, temperature or season. During the mating season, it becomes brighter and more contrasting to attract a partner. In winter, it becomes darker and more monochromatic to retain warmth and provide camouflage.
  • The imperial newt can perform various poses and movements that have different meanings and functions. For example, it may raise its head and tail to show its crest and threaten its opponent. He may raise his front legs to attract the female's attention. It can swing its body from side to side to confuse predator or prey.
  • An animal can exhibit various forms of social behavior, such as cooperation, altruism, mutual aid or conflict. For example, the tangerine newt may share its food, water, or territory with other newts. He may fight other newts for resources, status, or mates.