In memoriam: 40-yr-old female Japanese Firebelly

epyllion

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Alas, we thought she was immortal! She was given to a friend of ours in 1978 in California, and we made her acquaintance when we were grad students in central PA. When our friends moved to Hawaii in 2003, we adopted her, and she has lived with us ever since. We moved her into a larger (30-gallon) tank with lots of plants and she loved to eat--bloodworms and black worms, and live wriggling earthworms. She left a young male consort quite bereft (he'd been courting her with his wriggling tail the previous week), but we could tell she was slowing down. She was increasingly wobbly, and sometimes she had still spells--seemed to go comatose a while and then come back. We found her in her favorite plant with a sad cloud of skin around her--sign of organ failure. And we are very sad. She was the inspiration and model of our website logo for our Digital Humanities courses at Pitt-Greensburg, and she's the beautiful dark-skinned newt in the background of this picture:

http://newtfire.org/courses/firebellies.html

We have more pics of Lady Newt (as we called her), and will post. We're pretty sad about her passing because she was a companion for so long! The young male she's with is active and probably wants a companion. We're not sure how to go about finding him a new consort. Our newts, to our knowledge, never produced eggs--perhaps she was too old when we met her, or perhaps we could never quite get the tank water cool enough. But we have one younger Cynops Pyrrhoghaster and he'd probably be more fulfilled with a companion than being alone. He wants someone to court and flatter.

We have a good, stable tank setup and think we can provide a good home to a pair of newts or more, but we're grieving and aren't sure what's best to do--whether to donate our surviving newt to someone in this community, or seek adoption of a new female cynops pyrrhoghaster. We aren't biologists--just fortunate to have cohabited with a tenacious pair of newts for a long time. We thought of her as Methusaleh--and who knows how long she was alive before 1978? Farewell dear old newt, we miss you. :sad:
 

bellabelloo

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Rest in peace Lady Newt.
It sounds like she has had a wonderful life with you. If you have more photo's of her and her young companion, they would be lovely to see.
I'm hoping it wont be too long until Little Newt has a new friend.
 

AuSu

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It's a beautiful history and very inspirational when keeping newts. RIP Lady Newt <3
 

AquaGirl

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Sounds like she had a beautiful life with you. I'm sure you will miss your sweet Lady Newt. Little Newt must be wondering where she went off to. Rest in peace Lady. :love:
 

Bette

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Wow - what a long life! Truly amazing.
Sorry for your loss :(
 

supergrappler

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What a fantastic and long happy life you gave her! I'm so sorry for your loss.
 

epyllion

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The grieving process is pretty weird--we got really attached to the newts--and for us it seems "natural" for there to be a pair about, because we're used to seeing them interact over many years since we were all students. I keep wondering if the Little Newt is "lonely"--and I am sure he's missing something of his old tank mate, but I've read elsewhere that newts really aren't social animals. Still, there's some dimension of life--vying over worms, swimming around in parallel, etc., that seems companionate somehow. :blob:

Well, we learned a lot about newts in adopting Lady Newt, and we miss her a lot. I'd be glad to find another firebelly Lady, and I wonder if we might figure out the right conditions for them to breed. Little Newt used to be pretty amorous with a female around...
 

landonewts

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I feel for you in the loss of your newt friend. It's amazing that you were able to keep her for so long. I also had two "Methusela" newts, one a firebelly and one a rough skinned newt (Fluffy and SnoBall) that got at about the same time. I just lost them a couple of years ago, after a little over 35 years, and I miss them so much. They were together so long they seemed very in sync (even though sometimes Fluffy initiated unwanted mating rituals with Snoball) and they died within a few months of each other. There was no internet when I got them, so I was winging it when it came to their care, and found out more as I went.

Anyway, I loved reading the story of your Miss Newt. Maybe you can find another newt or two. I rescued a "free newt" on Craigslist a few years ago, and now he's my only newt. His name is Dr. Steve Tanaka.
 

cerastes

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That is a very long-lived newt, impressive! Sounds like she had a good life.
I wonder if they age in a similar way to us, like telomere shortening, mitochondrial damage, etc.
Now I have some searching for articles on the topic to do! :happy:
 
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