The great crested newt, also called the warty newt, is a small to medium sized amphibian living in Europe. These animals are nocturnal, and during the day, they hide at the bottom of ponds. Warty newts are brown or black in color, but their underside is a bright orange. The underside has black blotches on it, and the pattern of blotches is unique for each individual. As with all newts, these animals can regenerate lost limbs, but as they age, newts are not able to perform this task as easily. During the winter, these animals hibernate on land. Click here to watch a few videos about this amazing animal.
Male or female?
The crest that you see on this newt’s back is only grown during the spring, and only males have this crest. They use it to attract females. Another difference between males and females is that females do not have the white streak that you can see on the tail of the individual pictured above. This white streak is also only present during breeding season. Outside of breeding season, the only visible difference between males and females is that the females have an orange stripe under their tails.
The great crested newt’s size ranges a lot with adults being from four to seven inches (10-18 cm) long. These animals do not weigh much, coming in at no more than .37 ounces (10.6 g). Females are slightly larger than males.
Warty newts are more terrestrial than most newts, but they still stay near the water to keep their skin moist. When on land, food includes worms, slugs, and insects, and in the water they eat tadpoles and mollusks. They may even eat other smaller amphibians.
These amphibians inhabit a large variety of habitats including forests, grasslands, and farmland. In general, they prefer areas with large ponds that have many weeds and few fish. They also like having suitable land in between preferred habitats. This is because great crested newts often migrate between different populations in the same area. The quality of the land in between the populations determines how much they will migrate if they decide to migrate at all.
Status and threats
The great crested newt is classified as least concern on the IUCN Red List. One of the largest threats facing these animals is the loss of habitat. There are some new ponds that would make good homes for these animals if the ponds did not have so many fish in them, as the fish prey on eggs and young. Ponds that are habitable in agricultural lands often become polluted with fertilizers and pesticides. In Great Britain, the great crested newt is one of the rarest amphibians. There it is not legal to handle one of these animals without a license.
Along with fish, some other predators include kingfishers and herons.
Besides hiding in weeds, warty newts have one other form of protection. When threatened, their skin releases a white liquid. This liquid is an irritant to the eyes, nose, and mouth of any potential predators. The orange coloring on the newts’ bellies warns of this hazard and tells predators that the newt will not make a good meal.
Mating, eggs, and young
Mating season starts during April and continues to May. Males use their tails and crests to attract females. Competition can ensue among males for the best displaying sights. Some males trick other males by pretending to be a female. This draws the displaying male over and the pretender then rushes in to steal the displaying ground.
After mating, the female lays up to 300 eggs among the leaves of pond plants. The female can lay eggs immediately after mating, but sometimes they wait until as late as July. The process of laying eggs may take a while because they are laid in groups of one, two, or three.
The eggs develop for about twelve to twenty days before they hatch. About two months after hatching, the young have metamorphosed into a stage where they can survive out of the water. It takes up to four years before the young are ready to mate. These animals can live up to 27 years.
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- Animals of the world. Tom Jackson, ISBN: 978-1780191089
- Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide. David Burnie and Don E. Wilson, Smithsonian Institution, ISBN: 978-0-7566-6002-4
- Great crested newt – Public domain
- Great crested newt range – Achim Raschka
- Mystery animal – Dave Lonsdale