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UK Native Newts – The Decline and Revival

21st Nov 2019

Newts, these cherished little creates are a massive favourite amongst people with a wildlife pond, they provide bragging rights for most people as proof of how great their wildlife sanctuary is.

Since around the mid to late 70’s the numbers of these wonderful little amphibians has been in serious decline due to the reduction of their natural habitats, organisations have been monitoring their progress in public bogs, nature reserves etc., however the pond in your back garden is crucial to their survival.

Great Crested Newt

The largest of the native newt species, with the Females being slightly bigger than the males at up to around 16cm. It is one of only four Amphibians to be protected by the Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP). These Newts are found all across Europe – from North of the Alps right down to the Southern tip of the Black sea.

This particular newt’s crest is the how you can easily distinguish between the male and the female in the breeding seasons - a jagged crest runs all the way down its back with a smoother crest on its tail. Their general colouration is Black to dark brown, with yellow or orange underneath.

Smooth Newt

Also known as the common newt, again it is found in most areas of Europe apart from the Southern tips of France. These are a lot smaller than the Crested newt at around 10cm, with the male and female being of very similar sizes. These are hard to tell apart too, the male has a singular black line that runs down its spine and the female has two parallel lines either side of the centre. In the breeding season though the male develops a crest and becomes much darker in colour.

These newts will usually emerge from hibernation in February to May and head towards fresh water to breed.

Palmate Newt

This species of newt is common across most of Western Europe, although in Belgium, Holland and Luxemburg it is considered to be extremely rare, or even endangered. In many countries it is a protected species.

The Palmate Newt is the smallest of our native newts and will only reach sizes of up to 8.5cm for a male and 9.5cm for a female. Both the male and female have a green-brown base colour, and they have almost a dark mask on their face.

Like other newts they will feed on small crustaceans, daphnia, tadpoles, invertebrates and even each other! They have a life span of approximately 10 years.

So be sure to have a look out for these tiny little guys when you’re next out by your pond.