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. Dr Vicky Ogilvy has been developing our Dragon Finder project for London, and tells us more about the Smooth Newt.
"The Smooth newt, often referred to as the common newt, is the most widespread newt in the UK and is found across most of Europe. Smooth newts adapt to many different environments and can often be found breeding in ponds within towns and cities.
Smooth newts hibernate in dark, damp places over the winter but start to emerge in February and March once the temperatures get a bit higher. So keep your eyes peeled for these beautiful creatures!"
Dragon Fact File: Smooth Newt
(Lissotriton [Triturus] vulgaris)
• Like other newts, males use their tails to waft pheromones towards females to attract them. As she approaches he will put down a spermatophore, which contains sperm that will fertilise her eggs.
• Females stick individual eggs on the surface of leaves where they develop for two or three weeks until a tadpole hatches out. She can produce 200-300 eggs in one breeding season!
• The tadpoles have feathery gills that absorb oxygen from the water until they metamorphose into juvenile newts that have lungs and can live on the land.
• It takes three years before the young newts mature enough to be able to reproduce.
|Male smooth newts get a wavy crest on their back, and can have bright bellies|
• During the breeding season males develop a wavy crest from head to tail and their markings become more pronounced.
• Non-breeding males and females are similar in appearance with olive-brown skin on their backs, often with two darker stripes running along the length of the back.
• The belly is cream with brown spots and an orange stripe, and these markings are usually larger and brighter in males.
• Smooth newts can be distinguished from Palmate newts by their pale and spotted throat – palmate newts have pale throats without spots.
|Juvenile newts are tiny!|
|Smooth newts are brown, often with dark stripes running along their backs|
• More information available here about Smooth newts and other water dragons can be found here.
• You can support Froglife's work conserving Smooth newts and other amphibians and reptiles here.
Photos: Sam Taylor, Jules Howard, Andre Wild