Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris)

photo by John Beniston

Common Name: Smooth Newt
Scientific Name: Lissotriton vulgaris
Family: Salamandridae
Locations: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and United Kingdom
Introduced Locations Australia
Size: 3.9 inches (10 cm)

The Smooth Newt is one of the most common amphibians found throughout temperate, forest areas in Europe. They are mostly terrestrial, only staying in water for extended periods of time during breeding season. They are also nocturnal, spending their days under logs and rocks. The newts do come out during rains during the day.

The Smooth Newt reproduces after the newt wake up from hibernation. The males and females move to ponds to breed. The males will grow out a wavy crest on their back to impress the females. The male will do a courtship dance to attract females. The males will deposit a sperm packet in the water and will lead a female over it during the courtship. The female will pick it up with her cloaca and bring it inside her to fertilize her eggs. A few days layer, the female will lay her eggs, as many as 300. Eggs hatch a few weeks later and larvae will appear. The larvae take a few months to complete their metamorphism, but some individuals may take over a year. These individuals will then have to survive in the water over winter.

In Australia, the Smooth Newt has established populations in the wild. It is believed the newts were released into the wild from a pet owner who didn’t want them anymore. Never do that please. Currently, it is not known if the newt is causing any serious environmental problems so the Australian Government isn’t actively trying to prevent their spread or eliminate them.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus)

Great Crested Newt
photo by Rainer Theuer
least concern

Common Name: Northern Crested Newt, Great Crested Newt, and Warty Newt
Scientific Name: Triturus cristatus
Family: Salamandridae
Locations: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom
Size: 6 inches (15.24 cm)

The Great Crested Newt is named after the crested that males grow during breeding season. The breeding season takes place during the spring to summer when the newts wake up from their hibernation. The newts move back to the ponds where they hatched to breed. The males will perform courtship rituals to try to attract a female to mate with. Females lay around 200 eggs during a breeding season. After breeding, the newts move back to land and the males lose their crests. They are often found under rocks and logs during this time.

photo by Maciej Bonk

While the Great Crested Newt is listed as Least Concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, their populations are declining fast. The European Union has listed them as the protected species to help save them. The main reason for their decline is believed to be habitat loss due to development for urban areas.

Other Amphibian of the Week

Rough Skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa)

Rough Skinned Newt
photo by DSHil

Common Name: Rough Skinned Newt
Scientific Name: Taricha granulosa
Family: Salamandridae
Location: Canada and the United States
US Location: Alaska, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington
Max Size: 8.6 inches(22 cm) entire length. 3.4 inches (8.6 cm) for Snout to Vent

The Rough Skinned Newt is the most poisonous newt in North America. Its poison is used to scare off predators and is even harmful to humans. When attacked or threatened, the Rough Skinned Newt moves into the unken reflex position, where the newt raises its head and tail up so the predator can see the bright coloration that warns that the species is poisonous. Other amphibians also perform the unken reflex.

Rough skinned newt
photo by Henk Wallays

Every year, the newts migrate to their breeding sites. Mating happens from March to May, depending on where the newts live. Males try to court females through amplexus and rubbing their head on the female’s head. Fertilization for the species is internal. The male deposits sperm on a surface and the female picks it up. The female then lays eggs shortly after.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assesses the Rough Skinned Newt as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a wide range and are pretty common.