The Great Crested Newt – Under the Spotlight

18.04.16

Our resident Great Crested Newt, Greg the Great Crested Newt, kindly came out of his pond last night to give me a quick insight into his species. (Daytime isn’t the best time for newts as they spend most of it at the bottom of the pond during breeding season). After a brilliant question and answer session, I’ve put Greg’s interview under the spotlight to reveal the most interesting things about Britain’s largest and most threatened newt species.

1) The most common name for Greg’s species is the Great Crested Newt, next to the scientific name Triturus cristatus and the Nothern Newt. However Greg also revealed that he sometimes get called the Warty Newt, which isn’t so nice.

2) Great Crested Newts are often dark brown to black in colour with bright orange and black spots on their stomachs. They also generally have a ‘warty’ appearance (sorry Greg).

3) Great Crested Newts can grow to be upto 18cm long, which is twice the size of other newts. Greg was rather proud of this fact.

4) The Great Crested Newt mating ritual relies on the male wooing the female: the male newt stands on his front legs in front of the female, arches his backs and waves his tail around. Sounds familiar.

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5) Unlike most species, it is common for the female newt to be slightly longer than the male. Greg said his girlfriend, Glenda, was longer than him and he’s completely fine with that.

6) Female newts differ in appearance to male newts as they have a slight orange line on their tail. The males, on the other hand, develop a large distinctive crest down their back and a white / silver line on the tail during breeding season (April – June) – with it being mid season at the moment, Greg was more than happy to show off his.

7) Great Crested Newts spend most of their time on land (various habitats can include brownfield sites, farmland, grasslands and woods) but during breeding season (now), they reside in ponds and other water bodies.

8) Greg informed me that there are no longer any Great Crested Newts living in Ireland but they are widespread throughout England and Wales, as well as parts of Scotland. However, the species have declined considerably in Britain within the last century, which is why they’re a protected species.

9) Greg is pretty pleased that Great Crested Newts are fully protected under UK law, making it a serious offence for anyone to kill, injure, capture or disturb the species, as well as damage or destroy their habitats, and sell, control or transport them.

Male Great Crested Newt
Greg – Male Great Crested Newt

10) It is peak breeding season for Great Crested Newts, which means that it’s also peak season for Great Crested Newt surveys. Any action that could potentially harm or damage a Great Crested Newt or its habitat means that a Great Crested Newt Survey has to be carried out beforehand – this way we can ensure that newts like Greg and Glenda can remain protected and live without threat.

If you wish to find out more information about Great Crested Newt Surveys, please get in touch with our Ecologists on 0161 868 1300 or email ecology@rectld.co.uk.

Many thanks to Greg and Glenda for taking the time out to do this interview.

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