Pondwatch Episode 3: Newts!

Roz Wade, Learning Officer at the Museum, writes:

We have exciting news on this episode of Pondwatch – newts in the garden pond! I’ve been watching them closely, and managed to capture them on camera when they came out from their hiding places. We also have some of the aquatic finds of other members of the Museum team, so lots to explore this week.

How many newts can you spot in our latest Pondwatch episode?

There are three species of newt native to the UK: the smooth newt, Lissotriton vulgaris; the pamate newt, Lissotriton helveticus; and the great-created newt, Triturus cristatus. The smooth newt is the most widespread, and given the size and general colouring of my newts I think they are likely to belong to this species, but I need a closer look to be sure.

Newts are amphibians, like frogs and toads. Their eggs hatch out into larvae, or tadpoles, that look quite different to the adults. Newt tadpoles have feather gills on the outside, and it is their front legs that start to develop first rather than their back legs, unlike frogs and toads. Newts are protected by law in the UK, with special protection for the great crested newt, where it is an offense to disturb, capture or kill them or to damage their habitat.

Want to find out more about newts and other amphibians? The Froglife website is full of information and top tips for seeing and protecting these wonderful creatures, and there are handy ID guides on the Woodland Trust website and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation website.

On the blog you can also check out Episode 1 of Pondwatch, where I introduce you to my garden pond and the snails living there, and Episode 2 where Ed Turner goes pond-dipping.

What have you seen in your garden or from your window this week? Have you spotted any amphibians? We would love to hear about your sightings and see you wildlife from your window pictures. Either send them to us on twitter (@ZoologyMuseum), comment below, or email us at umzc@zoo.cam.ac.uk.

Photograph of a backswimmer
Image credit: Matt Lowe

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