Every month in 2012 we are featuring a fact file about a different dragon - the wild amphibian and reptile species that Froglife works to support. Great Crested Newt Revisited Project Officer Sivi Sivanesan has been investigating one of London’s shyest water dragons – the Palmate Newt.
"During over seven years of surveying for newts in and around London, I’ve heard lots of stories about Great crested newts, Smooth newts and Smooth newts that folk think are Great crested (as they have a wavy crest). Rarely do Londoners mention the shy Palmate newt.
It’s one of three native newt species, and in London, possibly the least recorded although they do seem more common South of the River Thames. In contrast, they appear to be more widespread and common in Central Scotland than the Smooth newt.
It would be great if people started keeping an eye out for Palmate newts, and sending records to us and their local record centres as they spot them. New data could help give us a better picture of what’s happening to the Palmate newt across Britain.
So what makes a Palmate newt a Palmate newt (on the outside at least)? Why not use our little the information below to see if you can spot them when you’re out and about or doing any work in the great outdoors."
Dragon Fact File: Palmate newt
- The name comes from the webbed hind feet of the breeding males, making their feet appear a similar shape to human hands.
- Both males and females grow to about 10cm long.
- They can be found in pH neutral to slightly acidic waters so are often found in areas where there are, or were once heathlands, moorlands and bogs – both in the lowlands and highlands of Britain.
- While classed as widespread and common, they are thought to be declining.
Identification: On Land
- They appear to have matt velvety dark skin (when dry) with dark bands on the faces of the males.
- Both sexes have brown to orangey/brown skin colouration and can look fairly thin.
- Females look much like female Smooth newts, so identification can be tricky. They do have pale nodules on their feet which Smooth newts lack.
- The males appear to have thicker or swollen hind feet.
- You can see more speckling along the face and shoulders in male Palmate newts when compared to male Smooth newts.
- Palmate newts also have unmarked throats (Smooth newts have spots and markings).
|A Palmate newt - on land but damp, so appearing very dark in colour|
- In water these features are heightened.
- In water the thicker foot of the male has a more star-like appearance as the webbing that joins the toes is exposed. Male Smooth newts can sometimes appear to have thicker hind toes in the breeding season but this is fringing and doesn’t join up each of the toes:
|The webbed back feet of the male Palmate newt|
|In contrast, the fringed back feet of a Smooth newt|
|Tail of a male Palmate with a double row of spots and filament|
- You can support Froglife's work conserving Palmate newts and other amphibians and reptiles here.