I run a website about newts. It's not a very good website as I haven't updated it since 1998. However, I do still receive and answer emails about newts.

Between November 4, 2000 and March 20, 2002 I received approximately 329 emails about newts. 79 were asking questions about newt care that were obvious to anyone who had read the site. 37 were asking for an identification, which I clearly stated I will not do. Twelve people asked me about the safety of holding a potentially toxic newt (via email and without any assurance of receiving a response) rather than call the poison control center or some other medical authority. 28 people were concerned that their newts were too skinny, and 17 were concerned that their newts were too fat. One found what might be axolotls in a volcano. One wrote to share a song she'd written about newts; another showed me her newt photography. One person wanted to know if it was true that newts had no brains.

3 people wrote because their newt had escaped (and I'm supposed to find it?). 11 told of misinformation and bad experiences with pet store employees, and 1 of misinformation from a flea market newt dealer. 12 parents wrote about their son's pet newts, but only 3 about their daughters'. Rather than assume that girls are discouraged from keeping pet newts, I will pretend that this statistic indicates that the girls are doing their own research on the subject. On a related note, 8 emails were from teachers (only 1 of whom asked an intelligent question), and 6 non-teacher emails were in regards to homework assignments. 2 of these were from students, the other 4 being from parents who were doing their children's homework for them. One person thought that newts have herpes.

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