A newt is a type of salamander. This amphibian stands out from the crowd with its bright colours, especially the variations of yellow, red and orange found on different types. This mainly solitary animal is found throughout Asia, Europe and North America. Newts are also available for purchase in pet stores.
Newts enjoy wet environments such as forests and grasslands. They have the ability to breathe underwater and on land. Some newts live on both land and in water. Their skin is soft and moist, making humid and wet climates ideal.
Size and Other Characteristics
Newts range in size from 7 to 10cm in length, with the females being slightly larger than the males. They have four fingers on the front two legs and five toes each on the back two legs. If a newt loses a tail, part of its spinal cord or its eyes, it have the ability to regenerate. Unlike salamanders, newts do not have costal or rib grooves along their sides.
Diet and Prey
Newts eat a diet of worms, small fish, snails and insects. Newts hunt by sight, so their prey must be moving for them to see it in order to attack. To fend off predators, newts have secret toxins in their skin that they secrete if needed. They also use bright underbelly colours to scare off any attackers.
Newts mate in early spring. Newts lay up to 400 eggs at a time. They either lay them in water, or choose to wrap their eggs around leaves to keep them safe from predators. A baby newt develop front legs first, the opposite of frogs.
Main Types of Newts
Four main types of newts exist: the common or smooth newt, the palmate newt, the crested newt and the fire belly newt. The newts differ in belly colour. For example, the common newt has an orange belly, and the palmate newt has a yellow belly.
The great crested newt, or warty newt, is only found in Europe. It is endangered and a special license is required in Europe to handle one.