Friday, 12 December 2014

Hong Kong Newt

I wrote about Asian salamanders, a new chytrid fungus, the amateur herpetologist and the pet trade (the last two being bulked to ‘pet’ trade) in an earlier post (8 November 2014). One of the species that used to loom large as a pet in the area in which it occurs is the Hong Kong Newt (Paramesotriton hongkongensis). It is the only species of urodele that occurs in Hong Kong.

Herklots, writing in the Hong Kong Naturalist in the 1930s, noted that this species was offered for sale on goldfish stalls at the Chinese New Year Fair. Street stalls also had them for sale during the winter months in the 1960s. This photograph, taken in 1966 shows the underside of a male that came from a stall.

The name is a slight misnomer since the species occurs in adjacent coastal regions of Guangdong Province. 

The newts are found in and around the pools of hill streams and we saw them in the stream that runs through Tai Po Kau Forest Reserve in October 2009.

Hong Kong Newt can be seen in this pool in Tai Po Kau
In Hong Kong the species has legal protection. You can read about research on this species, published from David Dudgeon’s group at the University of Hong Kong, here.