The smooth newt or the common newt is a type of amphibian that is mostly found in the UK and various other parts of Europe. It is one of the most widely spotted species of newt.
The smooth newt has got 7 main subspecies that are listed below:
Here is a brief description of the smooth newts.
Length: The smooth newts have a length that ranges between 8 cm and 11 cm.
Skin: The bodies of these newts are covered by a nice and smooth skin surface.
Color: Smooth newts have got an olive green or light brown colored skin that is covered with prominent dark spots that can be seen on their throats. Both males and females have got orange colored bellies that are covered with clear black spots.
Sexual dimorphism: The females are typically shorter than males. The females also have a paler body color and this makes it possible to identify them quickly.
Common Newts are found in all parts of Europe like Britain, Ireland, and Austria.
They are not found in southern Italy, Southern France, and the Iberian Peninsula. They can also be spotted along Russia and West Asia.
These newts mostly spend their time in deciduous woodlands, parks, swamps, wet moorlands, gardens, farmlands and marshy areas during the non-breeding seasons.
Since pollution in various other water bodies has been increasing over some time, these days the smooth newts mostly can be found in the garden ponds. They choose stagnant water bodies with plenty of weeds when they are looking to breed.
These are the common behavioural traits of the smooth newts.
When in water, the smooth newts mainly consume water snails, tadpoles, shrimps and water lice. Since most of the food items that they eat are readily available, they do not have to work hard to catch their prey. Newt larvae mostly eat invertebrates and crustaceans that live in water. When on land, they eat different types of insects, worms, and slugs.
The mating season lasts between the months of March and May.
The smooth newts reach sexual maturity by the time they are 3 years of age in their overall lifecycle. During the reproducing season, the males grow a jagged top section from the head to the tail.
The spots in their bodies become more prominent and their body color also takes on a dark hue. The males also develop flaps on their toes which make it easy to identify them.
Smooth newts mostly choose stagnant water bodies having high pH content along with plenty of vegetation for their breeding purposes. The males make use of signals to attract females. These movements and gestures include slapping of their tails as well as vibrating them steadily. The mating activity takes place on land. Once the initial courtship takes place, the males deliver the sperm capsule which is then absorbed by a female into her cloaca or reproductive opening. Fertilization takes place inside the body of the females. Following this, females typically lay around 300 to 400 eggs in a single breeding season.
The females mostly lay up to around 12 eggs on a single day. They use the leaves of the water plants to lay the eggs and then hide them. The eggs are always cream colored and about 1.5 mm in overall size. They hatch about 15-20 days later and produce larvae that eventually develop feathery grills along with forelimbs. The forelimbs come out prior to the hind limbs.
Smooth newts typically live for about 5-6 years. However, in some cases, they have even been found to live for as long as 20 years.
From the month of November to March, the smooth newts undergo hibernation and come out only when the ambient temperature is perfect for their breeding purposes. They strictly avoid vegetation during hibernation and only stay under the soil surface. They only prefer moist weather conditions when it comes to breeding.
The most effective adaptation feature that these newts have is their agile tails that are apt for movement in the water. These newts are excellent swimmers and their tail works like a paddle which allows them to move quickly in water.
The smooth newts are mostly preyed on by various amphibians, fishes, aquatic creatures, grass snakes and birds. The fishes usually consume the smooth newt tadpoles.
The smooth newt is listed under the category of “Least Concern” by the IUCN. The Wildlife and Countryside Act of UK as dawn in 1981 makes it illegal to trade in these newts. Ireland has also implemented laws that prohibit capturing or killing of the smooth newts.
A lot of people love to keep these smooth newts as pets. They also make very interesting and low maintenance pets. Here are some of the things that you need to keep in mind if you are planning to pet these newts.
Housing: Make sure that you arrange for a semi-aquatic environment since they love to live both on land and water. It is always a good idea to have a large plastic or glass tank as their home that is further furnished with a soil substrate, moss, and logs so that they can hibernate easily. Move the newts to a perfectly moist area during the breeding season.
Feeding: Insects, mollusks, snails and various other aquatic creatures make up the bulk of their diet during their life as pets.
Care: Maintain the correct environment and temperature for these smooth newts to thrive.
Here are some of the unique facts that are associated with the smooth newts.
Check out some of these pictures of smooth newts.
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