Home Page Newts  

We have three native species of newt here in the UK:

Palmate Newt - Triturus helveticus / Lissotriton helveticus
Smooth or Common Newt - Triturus vulgaris / Lissotriton vulgaris
Great Crested or Warty Newt - Triturus cristatus

All of our newts hibernate during the winter months awaking in February or March to return to ponds to breed. Outside of the spring breeding season both Common and Palmate newts can be found far from water whilst Great crested newts spend most of their time near water. For breeding, weedy ponds without fish are favoured with the weeds providing cover for the adults and the eggs being laid on the undersides of the leaves. Once outside of the breeding season all three newt species are nocturnal, hiding in damp environments during the day and hunting their prey of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates at night. They are useful in the garden as their prey includes both slugs and snails. Common newts are also known as smooth newts due to their smooth skins. Their bodies are pale brown to olive green in colour and they have orange bellies. They are generally covered in black spots including their throats. Palmate newts are very similar but their throats do not have spots. Common and Palmate newts are similarly sized, although Common newts are generally slightly larger. Palmate newts may grow up to 4inches long including their tails while common newts may reach 4.5 inches. Great-crested newts are noticeably larger, reaching up to 7 inches in total length with much larger and chunkier bodies than either the common or palmate newts. They also have a warty skin; very dark with even darker spots and yellow or orange undersides with black markings. The species gets its name from the large, jagged crest the males develop during the breeding season. Common newts are the most abundant newts in the United Kingdom and are the only species of newts to be found in Ireland. Palmate newts have more of a preference for shallow ponds on acidic soils. They are therefore most common in areas where these conditions occur such as Devon and Cornwall, Scotland and Wales where they can be more abundant than the common newt. Great crested newts are far more rare and localised, although quite widely distributed, particularly in England. All three newts are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, prohibiting trade in any of the three species. Great crested newts are quite rare due to population declines, and they are heavily protected under law, making it illegal to kill, injure, capture or disturb them; damage or destroy their habitat; and to possess, sell or trade in them or even handle them without a licence. They are a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, aiming to maintain, enhance and restore populations.

Palmate Newt Palmate Newt Palmate Newt Palmate Newt