(light suspenseful music) this is one of the most toxic amphibian species in the world, that poison can kill you in as few as six hours.
And is there any antidote? - there is no antidote for the poison, that this newt contains within its body. I'm just gonna grab a handful of 'em, we'll really just look at one.
(Dynamic jungle music) (light melodic music) deep within the mist covered mountains, a complex network of rivers and streams cut through the ancient landscape of japan. Crystal clear and often fast flowing, these waters provide a refuge for various aquatic species including one of the planet's largest amphibians, the japanese giant salamander and while we will certainly be putting a focused effort on getting that species up close for the cameras, today we are in search of its smaller and strangely more dangerous cousin, the fire belly newt.
The tottori prefecture is one of the most remote and biologically diverse ecosystems in all of japan. The dense forests and lush landscapes are teeming with wildlife and if you make your way into the valleys, you find the source of this location's life, its waterways.
Wow, here's some huge rocks! Look at that, absolutely massive, you won't want one of these toppling down on your head, that'd crush your whole body.
We are exploring a river habitat, that is strewn full of these boulders, but you see there are also these calm pockets, that don't have any flow to them.
Now what we're searching for are japanese fire belly newts, they're very prominent in this location with just a little bit of effort, we should be able to get some up close for the cameras.
Alright, i'm just heading, the team are gonna scout down around this bend, keep your fingers crossed, guys, this might be a newt episode.
(Light suspenseful music) with my eyes focused, i search the pockets of water, hoping to catch sight of any fleeing animals and it wasn't long before I successfully came upon our target species.
Alright, so what are we doing? Coming up to these pockets here, I got a whole cluster of newts. Whoa! It's exactly what we've been looking for.
Gotta use all fours! Okay. (Light suspenseful music) alright, guys, so we foraged across the main stretch of the river and I found this pocket that is filled with japanese fire belly newts.
Now what I have with me is the brave wilderness adventure kit bug collection container, which today is gonna double for handling newts, so if you guys are ready, i'm gonna pick up a couple of 'em out of this pocket and we're gonna get 'em up close to the cameras.
Alright. Now where did they go? Oh, here's one here. Oh, oh, oh, oh, here we go, here we go. I'm just gonna grab a handful of 'em, we'll really just look at one, look at that little guy right there.
Hi, buddy. I saw a really big one, where did it go? And they blend perfectly into all of these leaves, just trying to gently move the environment around a little bit, until one swims and then we'll be able to catch it, oh, there it is, you see it? - back in the corner, right here, you see it? - give me a shot.
Oh, yeah! - see down there, oh, there's two actually one right next to each other. Nice. - i'm gonna get 'em both, two newts at once, there we go, got 'em.
Double catch! - double newt catch! Alright, well I think four is a good collection. That's awesome! Alright, let's get 'em up here into the better light and get 'em up close for the cameras.
Now I said it when we walked up and caught these newts, but these are japanese fire belly newts and while they may appear to be adorable and there's no argument as to whether or not they are, this is one of the most toxic amphibian species in the world.
Now I wanted to collect a few of them out of that little pocket of water, look at 'em, all just piled up in there crawling around, gives you the good opportunity for some b-roll shots on their bellies, but I know what you guys really want me to do is free handle one of these newts and don't worry, it's gonna be completely fine, I just wanna be as gentle as possible and not put any stress on the animal, because if I do, they're gonna secrete that toxin.
Okay, i'm gonna get the biggest one out of here, you guys ready? - yep. I'm just gonna sorta set the container down here. How many newts total did we get? I picked up four, but i think there were six in that little pocket of water.
I'm just gonna handle a single one. There we go, it'll be a little easier to see it like this. Look at that newt, wow, look how cute it is. That's amazing, you see, look at the back of this newt, from the dorsal side, it looks just like the california newt or the rough-skinned newts, that we saw in california, but if you turn it to the underside, you can see where it gets that name, fire belly and that bright red coloration is a very apparent sign, an aposematic sign, that this is one incredibly toxic amphibian.
Now just behind the head here, you see those two little lumps just above the ear? Just like a toad, these newts have a parotid gland, now a parotid gland is filled with poison, now if something comes in and threatens to eat this newt, it will secrete poison from that parotid gland, it has a very noxious smell and a very pungent taste, so that first defense mechanism basically says to any predator, " don't eat me, i don't taste good, " but if that doesn't deter the predator from turning this creature into a meal, the toxins inside of its body, within its skin and within its muscles are actually much more potent, in fact it is one of the sixth most potent toxins in the world, it's a neurotoxic poison, that poison can kill you in as few as six hours, so it doesn't matter if you were a human or an animal, if you eat this newt, you are going to die.
Wow, and is there any antidote? There is no antidote for the poison, that this newt contains within its body. So the reason for this aposematic coloration, that bright color is a warning that, " if you eat me, " I am guaranteed to be the last thing you ever eat." now i'm sure a lot of you are looking at this species, saying to yourself, " wait a minute, " i've seen these in a pet store!" some of you may even have one of these newts as a pet, mark, I think you said-- - I had one! You had one as a kid, right? - yeah.
Well, here's how the toxins work, the toxins come from the little insects that they eat, all of that potency has to do with the food, that the amphibian consumes within the environment.
Once they're in captivity and they're eating captive newt food, those toxins diminish and they are not as potent, still, even if you have a newt at home, anytime you handle it, you definitely want to wash your hands, you guys wanna handle it as gently as possible, because they usually secrete the toxin, when they feel stressed.
Now is that as big as they get? They do get a little bit bigger than this and the males are larger than the females, so this one is a male, you can see how prominent and lengthy that tail is, look at that, it works like a rudder to help them quickly move through the environment and when they swim, they will actually tuck their legs against the side of their body just like that, almost like an alligator and then they will thrust themselves forward with the power of that tail.
Now aside from it being toxic, like I said, they are very cute, but they're also voracious predators, these newts will feast upon anything they come across in the environment that will fit inside of their mouths, so little arthropods, small, little shrimp, they'll even occasionally take really small frogs and other small salamanders.
Now are these common in japan? Incredibly common, if you come to any aquatic environment, any freshwater environment, whether it's a flowing stream, a pond or even an agricultural area, you will oftentimes find these newts.
Well, we came to japan with the goal of getting one of the largest amphibians in the world, the japanese giant salamander up close for the cameras, but we certainly couldn't pass up the opportunity to also feature one of its smallest, cutest and certainly most toxic amphibian species.
I'm coyote peterson, be brave, stay wild, we'll see you on the next adventure. (Light melodic music) the fire belly newt is one of the most toxic amphibians in the world, yet their calm demeanor and adorable nature disguise them as if they are completely harmless.
It's certainly best to admire newts from a safe distance, however if you do encounter and handle one, just make sure to wash your hands afterwards. With this species crossed off our list, it was time to search out one of the planet's most impressive amphibians, the japanese giant salamander.
Hey, coyote pack, have you enjoyed watching coyote's climb up the insect sting pain index? Learn more about these thrilling and painful adventures in coyote's new book, the king of sting, it swarms into bookstores november 27th, but you can pre-order your copy today, just look for the link in the description below.
Hey coyote pack, if you thought the fire belly newt was cute, make sure to go back and watch the episode, where we got its north american cousin, the rough-skinned newt up close for the cameras and don't forget, subscribe, then click the notification bell, so you can join me and the crew on our next wild adventure.
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