Great Crested Newt Triurus cristatus
This threatened creature has suffered a massive decline and is now legally protected. It can be easily identified as it is our largest newt and the males have vivid breeding colours. They are fond of Norfolk’s wetland habitats and can be found in central and south-east Norfolk. The courtship display is an extravagant affair; with the male standing up on his front legs with his back arched waving his tail.
Conservation status in Norfolk
Threatened. Because of the massive decline in their numbers the great crested newt is now legally protected and is a priority species under the UK’s biodiversity action plan. It is illegal to catch, possess or handle them without a licence or to cause them any harm or disturb their habitat in any way. A reduction in the water table, in-filling for development, neglect, and the stocking of ponds with fish, has caused a reduction in the number of ponds suitable for breeding.
How to help
Create a fish-free pond, the perfect newt pond will have gentle sloping sides to allow easy access, shallow pond margins which heat up quickly in the spring and deeper areas to prevent the pond from drying out or becoming totally frozen. Also near the pond create hibernation sites such as log piles.
Great Crested Newt, Karl Charters
Information on the Great Crested Newt
How to recognise
Our largest newt. When the males are in their breeding colours they have been described as miniature dragons. They have dark brown backs and sides and are covered with darker coloured spots. Fine white spots, the warts, are also present. These are on the side of the head and body and are more obvious in breeding males. Both sexes are orange or yellow underneath, with large black blotches and spots. These markings are unique in each individual. During the breeding season the males develop a jagged crest along their back and tail, with a slight gap where the tail meets the body. They also have a pale stripe along the side of the tail, usually white, silver or blue in colour. Females do not have a crest but they have a yellow-orange stripe along the lower edge of their tails.
Where to see
Norfolk is known for its rich wetland habitats but great crested newts appear to be absent from Broadland, being found mainly in central and south-east Norfolk. There are many populations in Breckland and a few records in the north and west of the county. They will live in a huge range of habitats from farmland to industrial sites.
When to see
Great crested newts emerge from hibernation in March andhead straight to breeding ponds. They will spend the day in the deep water feeding, moving into shallow water in the evening to breed. Between March and May the female lays several hundred eggs a day on submerged aquatic plants, each wrapped individually in a leaf. After 3 weeks the larvae hatch, with feathery gills, and begin to feed on other small water creatures. The newt larvae take 4 months to metamorphose into air-breathing juveniles. When they leave the water they will stay on land until they are sexually mature, at 2 or 3 years old. As the weather in October begins to get colder, newts look for suitable sites to hibernate such as under piles of leaves, among tree stumps or a hole in a wall
Did you know?
Newts can regenerate limbs and toes if they are damaged or lost.
“Eye of toad and toe of frog” – newts feature in many a witches’ brew including most famously in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
What do I do if I find a great crested newt in my pond?
Can amphibians and fish live together?
If you translocate a newt to another pond will it go back to the ancestral pond?
What are the differences between newt species?
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