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All about newts

Two species of newt are found in Nottinghamshire – the smooth newt (Triturus vulgaris) and the great crested newt (Triturus cristatus).

What to look for

Great crested newts grow to 18cm, with a rough, warty skin, dark back and sides. The belly is orange or yellow with black spots. The breeding male has a serrated crest.  Smooth newts are only up to 10cm long. Breeding male smooth newts have a high wavy crest, are normally olive green above, with black blotches and a bright orange belly spotted with black. Females are usually light brown or sandy yellow above, with a pale orange belly.

Did you know?

  • On land, newts eat a varied diet of slugs, snails, earthworms and small insects. In the water, they eat small invertebrates, fish fry, tadpoles and amphibian eggs.
  • Newts start to return to their ponds during March, although the main breeding period is in April and May. The male develops his crest at this time, which is absent at other times of the year. In both species there is an elaborate courtship ritual in which the male “dances” in front of the female, waving his crest and showing off his fine colours. After mating, the female lays her eggs singly – using her hind feet to fold the leaf of an underwater plant around each one.
  • Newt tadpoles hatch in about two weeks and look like miniatures of their parents, but with feathery external gills. They are carnivorous, preying upon small aquatic insects, frog and toad tadpoles, and even each other. By the time they are ready to leave the pond in August, their numbers are much reduced. In common with frog and toad tadpoles, some may remain in the pond for a further year before undergoing metamorphosis to become adults. This can happen if the food supply is poor.
  • After leaving the pond at the end of the breeding season, the adult newts take up residence under logs and stones, in crevices in walls and in other similar places. They frequently remain in these during hibernation, although as winter approaches some will bury themselves in the soil or find their way into underground cavities around the foundations of buildings. Several species of newt can often be found hibernating together. They will sometimes share their winter quarters with frogs and toads, too.

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Newt Printable Factsheet


Newt populations have decreased greatly in recent years, due to loos of habitat, mainly as a result of farming practices and the filling of ponds. Great crested newts are more rare than smooth newtas and have special legal protection in the United Kingdom.


Newts live in lakes, ponds and drainage ditches during the breeding season. At other times of year they move into woodlands, parks and gardens.

Where to see

During the spring and summer months newts can be seen in ponds, drainage ditches and lakes whilst they are breeding. Outside of the breeding season they can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodland, bogs, gardens and parks. Newts are mainly active at night.


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