great crested newt uk

7 Facts About Great Crested Newts (And What To Do If You See One)

One of my favourite things about summer is more time spent outside with my sons. And a favourite pastime outdoors is nature hunting. The Great Crested Newt is native to the UK and we were lucky enough to spot one a couple of summers ago! Here are 7 facts about them!

The Great Crested Newt, or Triturus cristatus, is not only an incredibly interesting amphibian, but it also contributes significantly to the biodiversity of aquatic ecosystems across Europe. Nature Metrics’ eDNA monitoring experts have collated seven facts about these mysterious newts, illuminating their unique traits and the conservation measures that are being made to safeguard them. Strangely, despite the importance of these wonderful critters, not many people know much about them.

A Mesmerising Metamorphosis

A male Great Crested Newt undergoes a dramatic transformation during mating season, and a stunning, jagged crest grows along its back and tail. It’s this crest that gives them their name, as well as their striking appearance. Still, this eye-catching characteristic has a purpose beyond mere showmanship, and is an essential part of their mating display to attract females.

Walking With (Little) Dinosaurs

Size is one way in which these newts stand out from the crowd. Adult Great Crested Newts can reach a length of 18 cm, or nearly 7 inches, making them one of the biggest newt species in Europe!

Diverse Dwellings

Ponds and other slow-moving bodies of water with lots of vegetation are the best places to see these newts during their mating season. Though they spend most of their time in water, these adaptable creatures also spend a lot of time in damp, protected areas like forests, meadows, and elsewhere.

Snack Addicts

A variety of invertebrates, such as worms, insects, and larvae, are on the menu for Great Crested Newts, who aren’t picky eaters. They clearly exhibit opportunistic eating behaviours based on the food they ingest, which includes tadpoles and even their own species’ larvae.

The Children Will Be Okay

When a mother Great Crested Newt lays her eggs, she painstakingly encases each one in the leaf of an aquatic plant. Each clutch can include as many as 250 eggs. These larvae undergo remarkable metamorphosis, enabling them to breathe underwater via features like external gills. After three months of development, these larvae undergo their transformation into newts, ready to start their life on land.

Extremely Long Life Expectancy

Living for as long as fifteen years in the wild is a testament to the adaptability of Great Crested Newts and the fragile ecosystem in which they flourish. The fact that they outlive all other amphibians highlights how crucial it is to keep them alive.

Ensuring their security

European Habitats Directive and The Bern Convention both recognise Great Crested Newts as endangered species across the continent. In1981, the United Kingdom enacted the Wildlife and Countryside Act to safeguard these species from harm and the destruction of their natural environment.

Pollution, construction, and habitat loss continue to pose threats to Great Crested Newts, despite their protection. Their populations are declining due to these problems, so it’s critical that we take good care of them when we see them in the wild and that conservation efforts continue.

Extreme precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of Great Crested newts because of the threats they confront. The answer includes restoring their habitat, creating more ponds, and raising public awareness about their plight.

What to do if you see a Great Crested Newt

Due to their dwindling numbers and protected status, seeing a Great Crested Newt in their natural habitat is an extraordinary and unforgettable event. If you happen to come across a newt, it’s important to approach the situation carefully, and to protect its welfare.

Take a Step Back and Look

Staying at a safe distance is the key to savouring any encounter with nature. As a result, the animal experiences less stress and there is less chance of inadvertent harm coming to them. It’s important to avoid disrupting the natural activities of Great Crested Newts during their mating season, as they can be extremely vulnerable at that time.

Do Not Handle

Despite the allure, it is not a good idea to handle Great Crested Newts, as doing so can be stressful and even harmful to them. The oils, salts, and chemicals on human skin can easily penetrate the newt’s porous skin, potentially causing harm. If you must remove the newt immediately (for instance, because it is in an unsafe area), carefully transport it a short distance to a secure, damp habitat using clean, moist hands or a damp cloth.

Protect Their Habitat

Take pride in being a protector of an important ecosystem if you come across a Great Crested Newt or its habitat on your land. Keep the natural vegetation around water bodies, such as ponds, intact so that newts have a place to hide and breed. Don’t use pesticides or chemicals around these locations.

Announce Your Observation

If you happen to spot a Great Crested Newt, please let local wildlife agencies and conservationists know, so they can better study and protect these creatures. For those living in the United Kingdom, wildlife trusts and the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) are good places to report sightings. We can track their numbers and see how well our conservation efforts are doing with this data.

Observe Requirements from the Area

Disturbing Great Crested Newts or their habitat may be prohibited in many countries due to legislative protections for these species. To avoid unwittingly violating any regulations, it is advisable to familiarise oneself with the local animal conservation laws and standards. Environmental specialists can help you understand the regulations that apply to newts and how to comply with them if you are involved in landscaping or land development.

Support Environmental Initiatives

Help amphibian conservation groups at the local and national levels by donating to their cause, helping to restore habitats, or taking part in wildlife surveys. Others can be motivated to take action by increasing knowledge of the significance of preserving species such as the Great Crested Newt.

Seeing a Great Crested Newt brings home how important it is to preserve our planet for future generations because of how delicate and beautiful our natural environment is. If you follow these rules, your encounter will have a beneficial effect on the survival of this wonderful species.



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