AmphibiaWeb - Paramesotriton labiatus


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Paramesotriton labiatus (Unterstein, 1930)
Zhao Ermi's Smooth Warty Newt, Spotless Smooth Warty Newt; Paramesotriton de Zhao Ermi, Paddletail newt
Subgenus: Paramesotriton
family: Salamandridae
subfamily: Pleurodelinae
genus: Paramesotriton
Species Description: Nishikawa, K., Jiang, J.-P., Matsui, M., Mo, Y.-M. 2011. Unmasking Pachytriton labiatus (Amphibia: Urodela: Salamandridae), with Description of a New Species of Pachytriton from Guangxi, China. Zoological Science, 28(6):453-461.
Taxonomic Notes: The genera Pachytriton and Paramesotriton have had a confused taxonomic history, complicated by the fact that a number of these salamanders have long been in the pet trade, identified as Paddletailed and Warty Newts, respectively. In 1985 Frost (Amphibian Species of the World) recognized only one Pachytriton, P. brevipes, and 5 Paramesotriton. At present 8 species of Pachytriton and 13 species of Paramesotriton are recognized. The pet trade long identified the following biological entities: Phenotypes Pachytriton A, B, C and D, none of them assignable to P. brevipes. Eventually Pachytriton labiatus was associated with phenotype A, but the other phenotypes were of uncertain taxonomy. In 2011 Nishikawa et al. discovered that the nomen labiatus belongs to a biological entity that had been recently named Paramesotriton ermizhaoi, and Phenotype A was assigned to Pachytriton granulosus (which had been in the synonymy of other taxa). Raffaelli (Les Urodeles de Monde, 2nd Ed 2013) thinks that Phenotypes A are taxonomically heterogenous, and include in addition to Pachytriton granulosus, Pachytriton feii, Pachytriton moi and Pachytriton inexpectatus; Phenotype B is thought to be Pachytriton changi (and we think also Pachytriton xanthospilos); Phenotype C is thought to be Paramesotriton labiatus; Phenotype D is thought to be Paramesotriton archospotus. No members of the genus Paramesotriton (Warty Newts) should be called Paddletailed newts; that name should refer only to Pachytriton (which are also known as Stout Newts). For formal taxonomic history see Amphibian Species of the World website.
Paramesotriton labiatus
© 2008 Boris I. Timofeev (1 of 15)

AmphibiaChina logo AmphibiaChina 中国两栖类.

Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
CITES Appendix II
National Status NONE
Regional Status NONE


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A moderate to large newt. The morphology and size are similar to (or larger than) P. brevipes. Females from Mt. Dayao (Guangxi Province, China), the type locality, can easily attain 190 mm in total length (with a snout-vent length of about 105 mm). Males are significantly smaller and weigh less than females (Xu et al. 2002). Tail is shorter than the snout-vent length. Head is flat, and the trunk is stout and robust. Snout is very broad in some populations, so the head is almost rectangular in shape. Eyes are small and are located at or anterior to the jaw angle. Labial folds are more conspicuous on the upper jaw than the lower jaw. Two lines of vomerine teeth orient in a ¦«-shaped manner, converging anteriorly. A gular fold is present and a parotoid region is evident. There is no vertebral ridge, but a vertebral groove may be present (Fei et al. 2006). The skin is very smooth with secretion of mucus. Limbs are relatively short. Animals of 190 mm long have forelimbs of only 20 mm. When the forelimb and hindlimb are pressed towards each other against the flank, the digits never meet. Digits are short and partially webbed. The lengths of fingers are 3 > 2 > 4 > 1, and the lengths of toes are 3 > 4 > 2 > 5 > 1. The anterior part of the tail is rounded, and the posterior part is laterally compressed like a paddle (leading to one common name of Paddle Tail Newt). Sexually matured males have papillae at the cloaca.

Live animals are uniformly brown to dark brown on the dorsal side, and lack the black dots that characterize P. brevipes. Some P. labiatus develop two dorsolateral lines of red flecks. Orange blotches are present on the ventral side, which are well defined in juveniles, blurred in subadults, and finally washed out in aged animals. After preservation, the orange or red coloration turns to ivory white. No pattern difference is confirmed between males and females.

Larvae are gray on the back and white on the ventral side (Zhao et al. 1994). Fully metamorphosed juveniles reach about 70 to 80 mm, and are sexually mature at 125 mm (Fei et al. 2006).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: China

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View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
amphibiandisease logo View Bd and Bsal data (5 records).
According to current taxonomy (Zhao and Hu 1984; Fei et al. 2006), Paramesotriton labiatus has a wider altitudinal occurrence than P. brevipes. Pachytriton brevipes can be found in streams from 50 m to 1800 m (Fei et al. 2006). Two allopatric distributions occur in Southern China. One range includes Guizhou, Hunan, Guangxi and Guangdong Provinces, and the other one includes Anhui, Zhejiang and probably Jiangxi Provinces (Fei et al. 2006).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Paramesotriton labiatus inhabits mountain streams of various altitudes. Some streams are several meters wide and about one meter deep, whereas others are mere trickles of 20 to 40 cm deep. Water can be either clear or extremely dirty (due to flooding). The species is mostly aquatic. Populations in Hunan Province hibernate from November until April in crevices or under boulders where water is present (Zhao et al. 1994). The newts hide in shelters during daytime, and are active at night.

The breeding season typically begins in April and lasts to July (Fei et al. 2006), but populations in Guangdong Province (southernmost distribution) may postpone to September and October (Xu et al. 2002). Under captivity, the species exhibit certain courtship behaviors (Sparreboom and Thiesmeier 1999). When a male senses the presence of a female, he swims toward her immediately and tries to block her path. Then the male positions itself perpendicular to the female's body, slowly fanning his tail tip near her snout. The female may either swim away or stay motionless if she is interested. After several bouts of tail-fanning, she moves towards the male, who turns around and begins to retreat. The female touches the male's tail while following. Finally, the male deposits a spermatophore and the female, creeping behind, picks it up with her cloaca.

Females lay around 40 single eggs at the lower surface of the rocks in the streams, and sometimes the eggs congregate to form a patch (Zhao et al. 1994). However, more than 160 eggs can be found in the ovaries of gravid females (Xu et al. 2002). The ovum is milky white and attains 3 to 4 mm in diameter (Zhao et al. 1994). There are three jelly capsules enclosing the ovum, so the egg is about 10 mm in diameter (Zhao et al. 1994). The incubation period is around 2 months at the water temperature of 13~15 degrees C, and females vigorously protect the egg clutch (Thiesmeier and Hornberg 2003). Females do not leave the nesting site during this period and may eat dead eggs (Sparreboom and Thiesmeier 1999).

Paramesotriton labiatus feeds on earthworms, other aquatic arthropods and insect larvae. The author observed two animals scrambling for the same earthworm from the two ends. After their snouts met, they rolled rapidly like feeding crocodiles. When captured, the animal may emanate a strong sulfurate odor (Fei et al. 2006). It may also emit food from the stomach. Zhao et al. (1994) recorded anti-predator postures including stretching limbs, lifting the head and tail, and exposing the orange ventral blotches.

Trends and Threats
The species is abundant in its range. Zhao et al. (1994) compared the number of animals collected in 1986 and 1993, and found no sign of population decline. However, large numbers of wild-caught animals appear in the pet trade every year. Local inhabitants may sell them as juvenile giant Chinese salamander (Andrias davidianus; Xu et al. 2002). Human exploitation and habitat destruction are the two most important factors affecting P. labiatus IUCN (2006).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Prolonged drought
Secondary succession
Drainage of habitat
Dams changing river flow and/or covering habitat
Subtle changes to necessary specialized habitat
Habitat fragmentation
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
Long-distance pesticides, toxins, and pollutants
Intentional mortality (over-harvesting, pet trade or collecting)
Climate change, increased UVB or increased sensitivity to it, etc.

According to current taxonomy, Pachytriton brevipes (Sauvage 1876) and Paramesotriton labiatus (Unterstein 1930) are mainly distinguished by their coloration (Fei et al. 2006). When Unterstein (1930) published P. labiatus (originally as Molge labiatum), he made little attempt to compare this species to P. brevipes in terms of color difference. Therefore, P. labiatus was stated to have no recorded characters different from P. brevipes (Pope 1931; Chang 1936). In Pope's (1931) description of Chinese amphibians from Fujian Province, he apparently had noticed the color distinction between P. brevipes and P. labiatus, yet he believed the coloration was not adequate for justifying separate species. Chang (1936) further discussed the color pattern of specimens from Zhejiang Province, but only as variations of P. brevipes. Hu et al. (1973) collected specimens from Guizhou Province, addressed the chromatic dissimilarity with P. brevipes, and recognized P. labiatus as a subspecies of P. brevipes. Not until Zhao and Hu (1984) confirmed the stability of color pattern and claimed no intermediate form in contact zones, was P. labiatus classified as a valid species.


Chang, M. L. Y. (1936). Contribution à l'étude morphologique, biologique et systèmatique des amphibiens urodèles de la Chine. Librairie Picart, Paris.

Fei, L., Hu, S., Ye, C., and Huang, Y. (2006). Fauna Sinica, Amphibia, Vol. 1. Science Press, Beijing (in Chinese).

Hu, S., Zhao, E., and Liu, C. (1973). ''A survey of amphibians and reptiles in Kweichow province, including a herpetofaunal analysis.'' Acta Zoologica Sinica, 19, 149-178.

IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2006. Global Amphibian Assessment: Phyllobates vittatus. <>. Accessed on 5 May 2008.

Nishikawa K, Jiang J-P, Matsui M, Mo Y-M (2011). "Unmasking Pachytriton labiatus (Amphibia: Urodela: Salamandridae), with Description of a New Species of Pachytriton from Guangxi, China." Zoological Science, 28(6), 453-461. [link]

Pope, C. H. (1931). ''Notes on amphibians from Fukien, Hainan, and other parts of China.'' Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 61, 397-611.

Sauvage, H. E. (1876). ''Sur quelques Batraciens de la Chine.'' L. Inst. (N. S.)., Paris, 4, 274-275.

Sparreboom, M, and Thiesmeier, B. (1999). ''Courtship behaviour of Pachytriton labiatus (Caudata : Salamandridae).'' Amphibia-Reptilia, 20, 339-344.

Thiesmeier, B., and Hornberg, C. (2003). ''The riddle of the Chinese newt, Pachytriton.'' Reptilia, The European Herp Magazine, 30, 43-50.

Unterstein, W. (1930). ''Beiträge zur Lurch und Kriechtierfauna Kwangsi's, 2.'' Schwanzlurche. Sitzungsbericht Gesellschaft Naturforschender Freunde. Berlin., 2, 313-315.

Xu, J., Zou P. Z., Wen, C. Y., and Chen, J. R. (2002). ''Sexual dimorphism and female reproduction of Pachytriton labiatus in the north of Guangdong (in Chinese).'' Journal of Shaoguan University (Natural Science), 23, 1-6.

Zhao, E. and Hu, Q. (1988). ''Studies on Chinese tailed amphibians.'' Studies on Chinese Salamanders. E. Zhao, Q. Hu, Y. Jiang and Y. Yang, eds., Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, 1-44.

Zhao, X.B., Zeng, L., Zeng J.D., and Lei, Y.S. (1994). ''The ecological study of Pachytriton labiatus in Yunshan National Park (in Chinese).'' Journal of Shaoyao College, 7, 147-149.

Originally submitted by: Yunke Wu (first posted 2008-05-30)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2015-12-14)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2015 Paramesotriton labiatus: Zhao Ermi's Smooth Warty Newt <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 21, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 21 Jul 2024.

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