The Smooth Newt, (Triturus vulgaris) is a species of Newt native to the UK.
The Smooth newt is one of the most abundant and widespread amphibians in the British Isles. They are more terrestial than other newts as they live in water as an adult for only the breeding season which starts in early march and can last until mid to late July. They can grow up to 11cm in length with their body being upto 6cm and their tail upto 5cm. Their diet consists of insects, worms and other invertebrates. In water, they will eat tadpoles of frogs (toad tadpoles taste horrible to them), insect larvae and occasionally even their own larvae. They can be found in a range of habitats except for more coastal and arid areas. The newts which are not breeding (or it is not breeding season), are typically olive-brown with a black spoted throat. They will have a black spotted orange belly in varying shades. The breeding males will usually have a crest that can be up to 1cm high in the breeding season. However the males will always have a bright orange belly with large black spots. They are largely nocturnal and will hide under leaf litter, logs and stones during the day time.
Breeding and Life Cycle
Adult newts migrate to their breeding water bodies which can be hundreds of metres away from their terrestrial habitat after winter. The newts shed their skin and become aquatic with males bearing crests and both genders with tall tails to swim easily. The females can lay 200-500 eggs which she lays on plants in a pond and then folds the leaves over to protect the eggs. These eggs will then hatch in 2-3 weeks.
They will also have distinguishable black face stripes. Newt larva are easily distinguishable from other pondlife due to their external gills. The larvae grow their front legs first a few weeks after hatching and their back legs a week or two after that. They hunt aquatic organisms such as daphnia until they are around 1.3cm when they begin to absorb their gills and metamorphosise; staying on land until after 2-3 years, they become sexually mature.