Saturday, 16 April 2011

April A to Z blogging challenge Newts

We have common smooth newts (Lissotriton vulgaris) in our garden pond. The story of our first newt can be found here. I’ve also written about newts here and here.

Newts are amphibians of the Salamander family (Salamandridae) and are found in North America, Northern Europe and western Asia and Russia. They start life in water and develop into juveniles that live on land, when they are known as efts, mentioned in ‘The Water-Babies’ by Charles Kingsley – ‘ . . .these efts are nothing else but the water-babies . . .’ 

One of their most intriguing characteristics is their ability to regenerate lost or damaged limbs and organs. Scientists have studied this regeneration for decades. Humans can regenerate liver tissue but that is all.

As adults newts may be fully or semi-aquatic. Terrestrial newts return to the water each year to breed, generally during June and July. The fertilised female lays 7 to 12 single eggs each day and usually places them on the leaves of pond plants. The leaves are often folded over and stuck to the eggs to protect them. One female may lay 400 eggs in the breeding season.

The eggs hatch in about three weeks and the tadpoles eat algae, small invertebrates and other tadpoles. They absorb oxygen directly from the water through feathery gills. After ten weeks they have metamorphosed into air-breathing efts with lungs. They are capable of reproduction at three years.
On a quiet summer day it is possible to hear a ‘popping’ sound as a newt comes to the pond surface for air. It is always a cause for delight when newts are seen – they seem to be shy, retiring creatures and with their olive green or khaki colouring they are well camouflaged in a pond busy with other, more readily spotted inhabitants and habitués.

12 comments:

  1. I have observed these little fellows through out the years but never really knew that much about them, thanks for the info. Since we have lived in this area I haven't seen either a newt or salamander but I will look a little closer next time I visit a stream or pond.

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  2. I like your newts. We have cik-caks or geckoes, of which I know nothing interesting except they poop behind picture frames and keep the mosquitoes down.

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  3. Who doesn't love a newt--just the name makes me smile. Thanks for sharing the info; all I know is we newt-sat one weekend when the girls were in high school. The biggest challenge was keeping the cat away!
    Hope you have a lovely weeke ahead.

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  4. That is a terrifc account - a much appreciated lesson.

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  5. Neat N word. Found you thru the a-z challenge. Nice to "meet" you.
    Karen

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  6. I recall lizards in Hawaii regenerating tails, but newts can regenerate limbs? Wow! That's really interesting and amazing.

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  7. I had no idea these little creatures could conjure up a new leg if needed. Wow. Interesting stuff. Very informative post.

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  8. I can't think about newts without thinking Wodehouse. NEWTS! :D I love them too - maybe not in any extreme sense - aren't they curious little creatures? Thanks for enlightening us... really great post!

    Genevieve

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  9. How wonderful that you have a pond in your garden. I'm jealous. And the newt? So darned cute!

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  10. We have newts here but I haven't seen any in a while. How fascinating that they can grow a new leg if need be!

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  11. I love all of the detail abour newts here. You are fortunate to be able to observe them so closely as you do!

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  12. We have newts in our ponds too, but I seldom see them. It can't be a coincidence that newt rhymes with cute ;-) Very informative post.

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