Although many parents remember meeting real newts when they were young, we’ve been reminded how unsung these beautiful little animals are. Lots of young people know what a frog is; not so many recognise this other pond dweller. Perhaps this is because frogs feature in lots of fairy stories, while newts are slightly less famous! To redress the balance a bit, here’s a story about newts for beginners. Please share to help young people learn about the dragons at the bottom of their garden...
|A Great Crested Newt|
Newts are small animals that look a bit like lizards. Rather than scales, they have soft skin like frogs. They look shiny when they are in the water, and velvety when they are on land. We have three different species of newts here in the UK; the Great crested, the Smooth and the Palmate. Telling them apart can be a bit tricky, but Great crested newts are big and black, while Smooth and Palmate newts are smaller and browny coloured. They are all really incredible animals with an amazing life, full of change and adventure.
|Newts have bright coloured bellies|
|Newts start life as eggs wrapped in in the leaves of pond plants|
Meanwhile in the pond, the tiny eggs start to develop into newt tadpoles called efts. The efts gobble their way out of the jelly that surrounds them, and then spend the next few months swimming and growing in the water. Efts have gills that let them breathe under water, like fish. However, unlike fish, these gills are outside their bodies – they look like a mane of feathery hair floating around their faces.
|Newt tadpoles have feathery gills that help the breathe underwater|
|A Smooth Newt crawls through the undergrowth|