Figured I'd help out the caudatan forum with some recent news. Well, when I was home on leave I spent an entire day at my old high school talking to hundreds of students about a variety of exotics, mostly herps (although Rupert was a hit too. Its not everyday you see a pheasant on a leash).
Some of the herps I brought were my newts, including Zooba, the rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa). Although I washed my hands after handling him, I think at some point in the day I didn't do so good a job at it. By the time the day was over, my thyroid glands were feeling a bit swollen. This got me a little nervous, cause rough-skinned newts contain enough deadly tetrodotoxin to kill a full-grown man. Just in case it was the tetrodotoxin that was causing my symptoms, I forced myself to vomit after I got back home. Man, a good muffin gone to waste. Whether it was truly due to the tetrododoxin, I'll never be 100% sure, but I did feel better after I emptied my stomach.
Fortunately though, Zooba's skin alone wouldn't have enough poison on it to kill me, its within his glands that he holds the deadly blow. Had he oozed out white beads of fluid, then I would've been in trouble. What really steams me though is that anyone can go down to the petstore and buy a rough-skinned newt without a permit or even having to know anything about them. They go for less than $10 and if some little kid, or some drunk friend swallows one, you better think about what you want on their tombstone.