Alpine newt

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Alpine newt
Temporal range: Late Miocene–Recent
Alpenmolch Alpine Newt Triturus alpestris.jpg
A male alpine newt
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Caudata
Suborder: Salamandroidea
Family: Salamandridae
Genus: Ichthyosaura
Latreille, 1801
Species: I. alpestris
Binomial name
Ichthyosaura alpestris
(Laurenti, 1768)
Triturus alpestris dis.png

The alpine newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris) is a newt of the salamander order Caudata (or Urodela) in the class of amphibians. It was formerly known as Triturus alpestris and Mesotriton alpestris.


Male alpine newt in water phase

During the mating season early in the year, the males exhibit dark-blue colouring on their backs; their flanks have white-black-spotted stripes below sky-blue stripes, and their bellies are bright orange. The females, in water camouflage, are mottled brown and have some weak spotting on their backs. The biggest of the males can reach up to 9 cm, and the females up to 12 cm in length. After the mating season, they return their original color of mottled brown.

Life and habitat[edit]

Alpine newts typically inhabit forests with good access to water in hilly to mountainous regions. They are mostly absent in forest-poor areas. They populate well in thick deciduous forests, as well as parkland and natural gardens. Outside the spawning season, Alpine newts live terrestrially. During the day it then stays in all kinds of undergrowth. After the adults come out of winter dormancy, they migrate to their spawning pools (forest pools, artificial pools) and live the mating season in cool water.


Alpine newts were originally confined to Central Europe and mountainous Southern Europe, as well as an isolated area on the northern Iberian Peninsula. The species was introduced to southern England in the 1930s and several populations have become established as far north as Edinburgh.


Female alpine newt

The alpine newt was formerly placed within the genus Triturus. García-París et al.[2] divided the genus Triturus, placing the alpine newt into its own genus Mesotriton. Later, Mesotriton was postulated to be a junior synonym of Ichthyosaura.[3] Ten subspecies of the alpine newt are recognized (some only with neotenic forms):

  • I. a. alpestris (Laurenti, 1768) alpine newt
  • I. a. apuanus (Gray, 1850) Italian alpine newt
  • I. a. cyreni (Mertens & Muller, 1940) Spanish alpine newt
  • I. a. inexpectatus (Dubois & Breuil, 1983) Calabrian alpine newt
  • I. a. lacusnigri (Dely, 1960) Yugoslavian alpine newt
  • I. a. montenegrinus (Radovanovic, 1951) Montenegran alpine newt
  • I. a. piperianus (Radovanovic, 1961)
  • I. a. reiseri (Schreiber, 1912) Bosnian alpine newt
  • I. a. serdarus (Radovanovic, 1961)
  • I. a. veluchiensis (Wolterstorff, 1935) Greek alpine newt

I. alpestris is the only living species of the genus Ichthyosaura, though one extinct species, I. randeckensis, has also been referred to this genus.[4]


  1. ^ Arntzen, J.W. et al. (2006). "Triturus alpestris". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2008. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  2. ^ García-París, M., A. Montori, and P. Herrero. 2004. Amphibia: Lissamphibia. Fauna Iberica Vol. 24. Madrid: Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.
  3. ^ Josef F. Schmidtler. 2007. Die Wurzeln einer bayrischen Herpetofaunistik im 18. und beginnenden 19. Jahrhundert. Zeitschrift f. Feldherpetologie 14: 93–119. Laurenti, Bielefeld. (PDF online, in German; see page 105)
  4. ^ Schoch, R. R.; Rasser, M. W. (2013). "A new salamandrid from the Miocene Randeck Maar, Germany". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 33: 58. doi:10.1080/02724634.2012.716113. 

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