Smooth Newt

Triturus vulgaris - Smooth Newt or Common Newt
The average lifespan of a Smooth newt is 6 years, although it is possible for some to live up to 20 years and they can grow up to 10cm long. Females and non-breeding males are pale brown or olive green, often with two darker stripes on the back. Both males and females have an orange belly, with the female being slightly paler, which is covered in rounded black spots. Their throat is pale with conspicuous spots. These spots help to distinguish them from palmate newts that have a pale unspotted throat.

During the breeding season which is february through to June, male smooth newts develop a wavy crest that runs from their head to their tail, and their spotted markings become more obvious. The males can also be distinguished from females by their fringed toes. The female starts to lay 7 to 12 eggs a day, with up to 400 eggs in total being laid, usually on broad-leaved aquatic plants and the eggs are wrapped up in leaf litter by the female. The eggs hatch 2-3 weeks later depending upon the temperature. The larvae have external gills, which absorb oxygen directly from the water. The tadpole like larvae are called eft and after about 10 weeks they will have changed into air-breathing juveniles. Eft develop their front legs before their back legs which is the opposite way round to frogs.

Smooth newts can be found in deciduous woodlands, wet heathlands, bogs, marshes, gardens, parks and farmland. They prefer standing water with plenty of weeds, such as lake margins, ponds and ditches. When on land smooth newts tend to feed on insects, worms and slugs by using their tongues to catch the prey. They do not use their tongues in water, relying instead on their teeth to grab onto the prey. In water their diet consists of Shrimps, water lice, insect larvae, water snails and frog tadpoles. They are free-swimming and tend to hunt for prey near the surface of the water.

On land they are nocturnal and spend the day hiding under large stones or compost heaps. Adult newts shed their skin as often as once a week. They emerge from hibernation in February or March, when the temperature is above 0 degrees Celsius and conditions are moist, and head for the breeding sites returning to land in late July.

Protected in Britain by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), with respect to sale.

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