How Often Do Newts Come Up For Air?

Curious to know how often do newts come up for air. It’s pretty interesting! Newts are these cool amphibians that can live both in water and on land.

As they grow up, they change how they breathe, using different ways to get air. How long they can stay underwater depends on things like how warm the water is and how active they are at a particular time.

Let’s get into the world of newts and find out more about how they breathe!


A Journey through Newt Life Stages

how often do newts come up for air
Marbled Newt on a moss

To help us understand how often newts come up for air, we need to learn about their life stages. Newts go through three phases: the aquatic larvae stage, the terrestrial juvenile stage, and the semi-aquatic adult stage.


Aquatic Larvae: Breathing Underwater with Gills

When newts are born, they start as small aquatic larvae that look like tiny tadpoles. At this stage, they have feathery gills outside their bodies and a flat tail fin like a paddle.

Like fish, newt larvae use these gills to breathe underwater. Their gills have thin layers and lots of blood vessels that let them breathe in oxygen from the water and release carbon dioxide.

This special way of breathing means newt larvae can stay underwater as long as they need to without coming up for air.


Metamorphosis: Transitioning to Terrestrial Juveniles

After a few months, the larvae go through a big change called metamorphosis. During this time, newts lose their gills and grow lungs for breathing air.

Their legs get stronger, so they can move around on land better. Their flat tail fins become more round, getting them ready for life out of the water.

When metamorphosis is finished, newts become young land-dwelling newts, also called efts. At this stage, they mostly use their lungs to breathe air.


Semi-Aquatic Adults

As newts mature into adults, they move into a stage where they live partly on land and partly in the water. Different types of newts have different preferences for where they live.

Some, like the rough-skinned newt and the smooth newt, mostly stay on land and only go into the water to breed.

Others, like the eastern newt, mostly live in the water and only come out on land once in a while.


Read also: How Often Should You Fog For Mosquitoes?


How Do Newts Breathe 

As adult newts live their partly aquatic life, their breathing changes. They mostly use their lungs to breathe air, but they also need to get oxygen from the water through their skin.


Breathing Air Through Lungs

Adult newts have lungs, but they’re not as advanced as ours. These lungs don’t have diaphragms, so newts use a method called Gular pumping to breathe.

They suck air into their mouth and nostrils, then raise the floor of their mouth and contract their throat to push the air into their lungs.

When they exhale, they reverse this process. This way of breathing isn’t as good as ours, so newts use other ways to breathe too.


Breathing through the Skin

Adult newts use cutaneous respiration, which means they breathe through their skin. Their skin is thin and has lots of blood vessels near the surface, allowing oxygen from the water to enter their bloodstream and carbon dioxide to exit into the water. This supplements their lung-based breathing.


How Often Do Newts Come Up For Air?

Newts, like other amphibians, can breathe through their skin to get oxygen from the water. But they also need to come up to the surface from time to time to breathe air into their lungs.

How often they do this depends on things like how warm the water is, how much oxygen is in the water, and how active they are.

Usually, newts come up for air more often when they’re busy, like when they’re feeding or breeding, which can be every 10 to 20 minutes.


Read also: Do Salamanders Bite? All You Should Know


How Long Do Newts Stay Underwater?

How long newts can stay underwater changes based on a few things, like the temperature, the surface area of their skin, the type of water they’re in, and how active they are. Let’s look at each factor:



Temperature affects how much oxygen is in the water and how fast newts’ bodies work. Cold temperatures mean there’s more oxygen in the water, and newts don’t need as much oxygen because they’re slower.

But in warm temperatures, they need more oxygen because they’re faster. This means newts can stay underwater longer when it’s cold than when it’s warm.


Water Conditions

The type of water where newts live affects how long they can stay underwater. Water that moves fast or gets stirred up has more oxygen in it, which helps newts breathe better.

But still water, especially deeper water, has less oxygen. If there are a lot of rotting plants in the water, the oxygen level might be lower because bacteria are using it up.

Newts can stay underwater longer in fast-moving water with more oxygen. How active the newts are also matters.

When they’re busy, like when they’re running from predators or looking for food, they need more oxygen.

But when they’re resting or hibernating, they need less oxygen. So, they can stay underwater for a long time when they’re not doing much, saving their oxygen.


Skin Surface Area

As newts grow up, their skin becomes less effective at absorbing oxygen from the water. When they’re young, they have feathery gills that can take in a lot of oxygen.

But as they become adults, their skin has less surface area, so they can’t absorb as much oxygen.

Some species, like crested newts with their special crests, have more skin area and can take in more oxygen, so they can stay underwater longer.



During hibernation, newts need very little oxygen. They can get enough oxygen through their skin, so they can stay underwater all winter without needing to come up for air. This helps them handle the challenges of winter without any issues.


Read also: Do Turtles Drink Water?


Can Newts Drown?

Even though newts can breathe underwater through their skin, they can still drown if they can’t get to the surface for air.

They have lungs like humans, so if their lungs fill with water, they could drown. While breathing through their skin helps, it might not always be enough.

To keep pet newts safe, it’s important to give them the right living conditions. This means having a habitat with both water and land areas so they can come up for air. Also, regularly changing the water in their tank keeps it clean and safe for them.



Newts are fascinating creatures that can live both in water and on land. As they grow up, they change how they breathe, starting with gills as babies and then using both lungs and their skin as adults.

How long they can stay underwater depends on things like how warm the water is, what the water is like, how big their skin is, and how busy they are.

Even though they can drown if they can’t come up for air, they’ve evolved ways to survive in water.

Understanding how newts live in water helps us appreciate how amazing nature can be and how different animals have different ways of surviving.

So, if you see a newt, take a moment to think about how cool it is that it can breathe in both water and air.

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