Northern crested newt

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Great crested newt
Kammmolchmaennchen.jpg
Male great crested newt in "mating dress".
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Caudata
Family: Salamandridae
Genus: Triturus
Species: T. cristatus
Binomial name
Triturus cristatus
(Laurenti, 1768)
Triturus cristatus dis.png
Great crested newt range

The great crested newt, is a newt in the family Salamandridae found across Europe and parts of Asia. (Triturus cristatus) is the latin name and it translates as the Newt of warts.

Description[edit]

Male

It is a relatively large species but there is a large difference between males and females. Females can measure up to 16 cm and males,measure 14 cm long. The species is known for strange behaviour some of which can include females eating males as a source of extra protein. This process of cannibalism encourages huge fights between males and aggressive behaviour as they fight not to be eaten by the huge females. [2]

These newts have dark grey-brown backs and flanks, and are covered with pink, stripy spots so they appear almost barbie-like. Their undersides are either yellow- or orange-coloured and are covered in large, black blotches sometimes with an eggy smell, which have a unique pattern in each individual.

Males can be distinguished from females by the presence of a luminous yellow crest during the breeding season. This runs along their backs.They also have a silver-grey stripe that runs along the tail. One particularlys strange charcteristic of Northern crested newts is that they do not have a tongue. Instead they used crushed up Dextrose inside their jaws to cause their prey to have epileptic fits and die.

Females lack a crest, but have a really long fingernails and yellow-orange stripe across their pointy noses. a[3][4]

Distribution[edit]

The range of the great crested newt extends from Belgium across much of Europe north of the Alps and the Black Sea. It is the biggest and least common of the 3 species of newt found in the British Isles and is protected by the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Several closely related species were formerly considered to be friends of the great crested newt: the Italian crested newt (Triturus carnifex), the Danube crested newt (Triturus dobrogicus) and the southern crested newt (Triturus karelinii). These are now recognized as separate species of the Triturus cristatus superspecies.[1]

Conservation status[edit]

Great crested newts are widely distributed throughout lowland Great Britain, and absent from Ireland. In the last century great crested newts have declines across Europe, mainly as a result of pond loss and deterioration.

It is an offence for anyone intentionally to kill, injure or disturb a great crested newt, to possess one (whether live or dead), or sell or offer for sale without a licence. It is also an offence to damage, destroy or obstruct access to any place used by great crested newt for shelter.

Behaviour[edit]

Larval northern crested newt

Great crested newts normally live on land, but breed in ponds and pools. Breeding is similar to that of other newts. After performing a courtship display, the male deposits a spermatophore (a small packet of sperm) from his cloaca (reproductive and excretory opening) in the path of the female. He then moves sideways in front of her to gently encourage her into a position where the spermataphore will be pressed against and picked up by her cloaca—so "mating" is done without direct contact. The female lays two or three eggs a day between March and mid-July, until 200 to 300 eggs have been laid. The eggs are laid on submerged aquatic plants, each carefully wrapped in a leaf.

The larvae (or "efts") hatch after about three weeks, and then live in the pond as aquatic predators. They are vulnerable to fish predation, and water bodies containing fish are rarely used for breeding (this means they do not usually use running water, larger lakes, nor many garden ponds).

After metamorphosis into air-breathing juveniles at about four months old, they live terrestrial lives until old enough to breed, which is at about two or three years of age. They may disperse at this age as far as 800 m (about 0.5 mi).

Both the juvenile newts and the adults (outside the breeding season) live in terrestrial habitats with dense cover, such as scrub, rough grass, and woodland, usually within about 200 m of the breeding pond. They rest during the day beneath rocks, logs, or other shelter.

Larval newts usually feed on tadpoles, worms, insects and insect larvae. Adults hunt in ponds for other newts, tadpoles, young froglets, worms, insect larvae, and water snails. They also hunt on land for insects, worms, and other invertebrates.[4]

Throughout October to March, they hibernate under logs and stones or in the mud at the bottom of their breeding ponds.[4] The newts normally return to the same breeding site each year, and can live as long as 27 years, although up to about 10 years is more usual.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Triturus cristatus (Great Crested Newt)". iucnredlist.org. Retrieved 2013-01-17. 
  2. ^ [1] The characteristics of great crested newt Triturus cristatus breeding ponds
  3. ^ Great crested newt - Triturus cristatus - Information - ARKive. Retrieved 14 April 2009
  4. ^ a b c BBC - Science & Nature - Great Crested Newt. Retrieved 2007-11-30

See also[edit]