Oriental Fire-bellied Newt
|Taxonomic Notes: Placed in Hypselotriton (Cynotriton) by Dubois and Raffaelli 2009, 2012 Alytes.|
© 2003 Jessica Miller (1 of 32)
Cynops orientalis has a dark black dorsum in life. Most animals are uniform dark in background color, whereas some individuals have lighter flecks and some are tannish gray. Dorsal color may switch among above variations from time to time. Unlike C. cyanurus and C. chenggongensis, this species lacks an orange spot behind the eye. The ventral side is bright orange or red, scattered with black markings. The base of each limb, the anterior part of the cloaca and the ventral caudal fin are orange, while the posterior part of the cloaca is black. The orange coloration becomes ivory white in alcohol-stored specimens (Fei et al. 2006).
Hatchlings are about 10~12 mm in length. Larvae have a brown dorsum and lighter ventral side. It takes from 50 to 80 days from hatching to metamorphosis. Newly metamorphosed juveniles are around 30 mm in total length (Yang and Shen 1993).
Distribution and Habitat
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The breeding season begins in March and ends in July, with a peak from late April to middle May (Fei et al. 2006). The suitable water temperature is 15~23 degrees C (Yang and Shen 1993). Courtship behavior in captivity has been recorded in detail by Sparreboom and Faria (1997). After the male approaches the female, he carefully sniffs at her and she may sniff back. Then the male positions itself in front of her in a perpendicular angle, and rapidly vibrates his tail tip, fanning towards her snout. If the female is responsive, she stays still or move towards the male. Otherwise she swims away. After the male turns around and begins to retreat, the female follows. The male raises his back and tail in an excited manner when leading the female. Finally, he deposits a spermatophore and the female picks it up. The male may bite and hold the female afterwards, probably to secure her from other males.
The female lays a single egg (or 2~4 eggs) on the ventral surface of aquatic leaf 2-10 cm below the water (Yang and Shen 1993). She may fold the leaf with her legs to conceal the egg (Fei et al. 2006). Then she takes a rest and looks for another leaf to oviposit. Most eggs are laid during night (Yang and Shen 1993). The ovum is 2 mm in diameter, with the animal hemisphere in brown and vegetal hemisphere in yellow (Fei et al. 2006). There are three layers of jelly capsules. A single female can lay around 100 eggs in one breeding season (Fei et al. 2006). The eggs hatch in 13~24 days (Yang and Shen 1993). The annual male to female ratio is 2.3:1 (Yang and Shen 1993).
Cynops orientalis feeds on small aquatic animals such as worms and insect larvae (Fei et al. 2006).
Trends and Threats
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Fei, L., Hu, S., Ye, C., and Huang, Y. (2006). Fauna Sinica, Amphibia, Vol. 1. Science Press, Beijing (in Chinese).
Li, S.C., Liu, X.L., and Hao, X. (2005). ''Morphologic observation and anatomical study on Cynops orientalis.'' Chinese Journal of Veterinary Science and Technology, 35, 60-63.
Sparreboom, M., and Faria, M. M. (1997). ''Sexual behaviour of the Chinese fire-bellied newt, Cynops orientalis.'' Amphibia-Reptilia, 18, 27-38.
Yang, D., and Shen, Y. (1993). ''Studies on the breeding ecology of Cynops orientalis.'' Zoological Research, 14, 215-220.
Written by Yunke Wu (yunkewu AT fas.harvard.edu), MCZ, Harvard University
First submitted 2008-05-30
Edited by Kellie Whittaker (2008-06-27)
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