Neurergus kaiseri

Geographic Range

Kaiser, or Luristan newts (Neurergus kaiseri), are endemic to the western part of the Zagros Mountains in Iran. They are restricted to a few streams near the town of Shah Bazan, in the Lorestan Province. (Duellman, 1999; Sharifi, et al., 2012)


Kaiser newts live in cold mountainous streams. These streams are in valleys where there is a mix of weather systems from the south containing warm and dry air, which mixes with systems from the north, which are mild and wet. This mix provides a cool climate that is suitable for Kaiser newts. The areas surrounding the streams are open woodlands comprised mainly of oak trees. These open woodlands are utilized outside of the breeding season. ("Consideration of Proposals For Amendment of Appendices I and II", 2010; Sharifi, et al., 2012)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • rivers and streams
  • Range elevation
    1000 to 2000 m
    3280.84 to 6561.68 ft

Physical Description

Kaiser newts are between 10 to 14 cm in total length. The ventral side of their body and limbs is a mainly a red-orange to orange color. Their limbs have black and white markings on the dorsal and ventral sides. Their dorsal side is black with pale white spots and occasionally has very light orange to yellow coloration. They also have an orange stripe that extends from their head down towards their tail on their dorsal side. Kaiser newts exhibit sexual dimorphism. Males have an obtrusion at the base of their tail, while females have a cloaca without the obtrusion. Females have greater mass, tail length, limb length, snout to vent length, and total length. Males have a larger cloaca then females due to glands that secrete substances for the spermatophore. ("Consideration of Proposals For Amendment of Appendices I and II", 2010; Schmidt, 1952; Sharifi, et al., 2012)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range length
    109 to 131 mm
    4.29 to 5.16 in


Kaiser newts develop through complete metamorphosis. They begin life as aquatic larvae hatching from groups of eggs deposited on rocks or in vegetation on the side of streams. These larvae are grayish-brown and have black spots. Apart from the differing coloration, larvae resemble miniature adults with external gills. The larvae feed on small invertebrates immediately after hatching. These invertebrates include small crustaceans, worms, aquatic insect larva, and other similar-sized organisms. Members of family Salamandridae usually metamorphose in 3 to 5 months. Kaiser newts mature even faster if water temperatures exceed 20° Celsius. During metamorphosis, the larvae gain coloration similar to adults and lose external gills. Their tail also changes, losing its swimming membrane, and the paratoid glands become prominent near the head. Following metamorphosis, the juvenile newts leave their aquatic habitat to live terrestrially until they are mature enough to breed. ("Consideration of Proposals For Amendment of Appendices I and II", 2010; Francis, 1934)


Kaiser newts mate in streams and ponds where males seek females. The male remains hidden until females are present. The male then pursues the female, though not as aggressively as compared with other Neurergus species. The male positions himself so that his anterior portion is facing the anterior region of the female. While positioned in front of the female, the male begins fanning and slapping his tail, probably to disperse pheromone excretions towards the female. The fanning goes on for a few seconds and then is followed by a pause where the male remains in front of the female. After fanning is completed, the male walks in front of the female, with his tail raised and continues performing undulations. As the male walks away, he deposits his spermatophore (gelatinous packet that contains sperm). The male then continues in front of the spermatophore and positions himself perpendicular to the female. When males begin their display, the female stands still until the male begins to walk in front of her. The female follows the male, touching her snout to the tip of his tail. After this, the male deposits his spermatophore and the female picks it up in her cloaca, where her eggs are fertilized. Females will later deposit eggs on rocks in the stream. It is unknown how many mates each sex may have in a season. (Max Sparreboom, et al., 2000)

Breeding occurs in spring (March to April); a female may produce up to 60 eggs. Metamorphosis may require 3 to 4 months, after which, maturity is achieved in 2 to 4 years. ("Consideration of Proposals For Amendment of Appendices I and II", 2010; Sharifi, et al., 2012)

  • Breeding interval
    It is not known how many times a year Kaiser newts breed.
  • Breeding season
    Kaiser newts breed from March to April.
  • Range number of offspring
    45 to 60
  • Average time to independence
    3.5 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    2 to 4 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    2 to 4 years

After the eggs are deposited, larvae and metamorphs have no further purposeful contact with their parents. (Max Sparreboom, et al., 2000; Sharifi, et al., 2012)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female


The lifespan of Kaiser newts has not been studied in the wild, but the related species, Kurdistan newts, can live 14 years in the wild; it is likely that Kaiser newts have a similar lifespan. ("Consideration of Proposals For Amendment of Appendices I and II", 2010)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: wild
    14 (high) years


Not much is known about the behavior of Kaiser newts. They live a terrestrial lifestyle outside of the breeding season from March to April. Given the rough terrain of their habitat, it is unlikely that they move very far away from the breeding streams. During the breeding season, they increase their food intake to compensate for the extreme energy costs of mating. ("Consideration of Proposals For Amendment of Appendices I and II", 2010; Sharifi, et al., 2012)

Home Range

It is likely that Kaiser newts have relatively small home ranges but more research is needed. ("Consideration of Proposals For Amendment of Appendices I and II", 2010)

Communication and Perception

Kaiser newts, like most other members of family Salmandridae, have large eyes that are farsighted in water. Their eyes are also adapted to function in and out of water. Sight is used in mating, for males to identify females and for females to see tail fanning displays. As with other newts, olfaction is likely well-developed and pheromones may be used in communication between the sexes. Touch is used when females nuzzle the male's tail before spermatophore deposition. Their ear structure works in maintaining balance and perceiving sounds. The extent to which their auditory perception is used in communications with other newts is unknown. More research is needed to develop further understanding of their modes of communications and perception. (Francis, 1934; Max Sparreboom, et al., 2000)

Food Habits

Invertebrates are the main food source of Kaiser newts. Their specific prey are unknown, however, wild Kurdistan newts, a species in the same genus, have a diet of crustaceans, insects, and snails. Due to similarities between the species, their environments, and what Kaiser newts have been fed in captivity, their diets are likely comparable. ("Consideration of Proposals For Amendment of Appendices I and II", 2010; Max Sparreboom, et al., 2000)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods
  • mollusks


Kaiser newts are predators in their environment; however, their natural predators are unknown. The contrasting aposematic coloration of these newts suggests they have distasteful or toxic skin secretions, as is common among other members of family Salamandridae, which would discourage predators. ("Consideration of Proposals For Amendment of Appendices I and II", 2010; Sharifi, et al., 2009)

Ecosystem Roles

Kaiser newts presumably control invertebrates in their aquatic habitats, their eggs and larvae may also serve as food for other organisms. These newts may be good biological indicators since they feed on low trophic invertebrates that would be affected by pollution. ("Consideration of Proposals For Amendment of Appendices I and II", 2010; Sharifi, et al., 2009)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Kaiser newts cause economic gain due to the pet trade. Unfortunately, this exploitation has lead to the near-extirpation of this population in the wild. Captive breeding may allow the species to continue to exist as an economic benefit for a few people. ("Consideration of Proposals For Amendment of Appendices I and II", 2010; Sharifi, et al., 2009)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Kaiser newts pose no negative effects for humans.

Conservation Status

Kaiser newts have become critically endangered because of their exploitation for the pet trade. This has led Kaiser newts to be classified under Appendix 1 of CITES. They are also threatened by dams in the area and by local droughts. ("Consideration of Proposals For Amendment of Appendices I and II", 2010; Sharifi, et al., 2009)

Other Comments

Unfortunately, populations of Kaiser newts were greatly reduced by commercial exploitation before they were well-studied in nature. ("Consideration of Proposals For Amendment of Appendices I and II", 2010; Sharifi, et al., 2009)


Tim Curtis (author), Michigan State University, James Harding (editor), Michigan State University, Leila Siciliano Martina (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.



living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map


having coloration that serves a protective function for the animal, usually used to refer to animals with colors that warn predators of their toxicity. For example: animals with bright red or yellow coloration are often toxic or distasteful.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


union of egg and spermatozoan


mainly lives in water that is not salty.


the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


eats mollusks, members of Phylum Mollusca


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.


chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species

scrub forest

scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


mature spermatozoa are stored by females following copulation. Male sperm storage also occurs, as sperm are retained in the male epididymes (in mammals) for a period that can, in some cases, extend over several weeks or more, but here we use the term to refer only to sperm storage by females.


uses touch to communicate


uses sight to communicate


2010. Consideration of Proposals For Amendment of Appendices I and II. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CoP15 Prop. 14: 1-10. Accessed December 02, 2013 at

Duellman, W. 1999. Patterns of Distribution of Amphibians. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Francis, E. 1934. The Anatomy of the Salamander. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Max Sparreboom, , Sebastian Steinfartz, Gunter Schultschik. 2000. Courtship behaviour of Neurergus (Caudata: Salamandridae). Amphibia-Reptilia, 22: 1-11.

Schmidt, K. 1952. Diagnoses of New Amphibians and Reptiles from Iran. Natural History Miscellanea, 93: 1-2.

Sharifi, M., T. Papenfuss, N. Rastegar-Pouyani, S. Anderson, S. Kuzmin. 2009. "Neurergus kaiseri" (On-line). Accessed December 02, 2013 at

Sharifi, M., H. Farasat, S. Vaissi. 2012. Sexual size dimorphism in Neurergus kaiseri (Caudata: Salamandridae) in south-western Zagros Mountains, Iran. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, 6: 1-8.