Image # 1360
Rough-skinned Newt has Pufferfish Toxin
Rough-skinned Newt strikes a defensive posture. - Coos County, Oregon. Rough-skinned Newts are highly poisonous with tetrodotoxin in their skins. This species of newt is so well protected that it is commonly seen wandering about in full daylight during the mild wet winters of the Pacific Northwest. When disturbed, the newt flashes its warning coloration, stiffly arching its head and tail upward to show its bright orange underside. This is taken as a serious warning by predators. Tetrodotoxin is the same neurotoxin that makes pufferfish or fugu so dangerous to eat. The toxin is also found in radically unrelated taxa including blue-ringed octopus, some parrotfish, angelfish, starfish, Atelopus genus frogs and xanthid crabs. The metabolic sources of this toxin are not clearly understood. It was thought to be produced by the animal's own metabolic processes, but recent research has found several bacterial sources of the tetrodotoxin, pointing to a symbiotic bacterial origin. Symptoms of intoxication start with slight numbness of the lips and tongue twenty minutes to three hours after ingestion. Gradually the paralysis spreads through the face and to the extremities, causing respriatory distress, nausea and convulsions. Mortality can approach fifty percent.