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04 Jul About Great Crested Newts

Great Crested Newts are widely distributed throughout Britain but this distribution is extremely patchy; they’re absent from Ireland and have disappeared from many sites across Europe. They are the largest of our native newt species. During the breeding season males develop a jagged crest which has a break at the base of the tail and females take on a ‘bulky’ appearance.

Identification

Adults up to 15 cm in length.  Skin is black or dark brown and has a rough, ‘warty’ appearance.Underside is bright orange with irregular black blotches. Males have a crest along their backs which is more pronounced during the breeding season. Males have a white flash on the tail and females a yellow/orange one.

‘Warts’ along the side of the body may have white tips.

Largest newt species in the UK.

Distribution

Native to the UK.  Widespread but patchy distribution in the UK.  Absent from Ireland.Found throughout northern and central Europe.Populations have disappeared from many sites across Europe due to habitat loss and intensification of farming practises.

Ecology

Favour large ponds with abundant weeds and no fish.  Active at night, spending the day at the bottom of ponds or in vegetation.Feed mainly on invertebrates and tadpoles.White with light yellow centre eggs surrounded by a jelly capsule around 4.5-6 mm across. Single eggs are folded inside leaves of aquatic plants.Larvae have a filament at the tail tip and black blotches over the body, tail and crest.  Larger than all other newt species encountered in the UK, reaching a length of 50 – 90mm before metamorphosis. May be hard to tell apart from other newt species when they are less than 20 mm in length.

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