Lissotriton Vulgaris (Smooth Newt)

Lissotriton Vulgaris is the scientific name for a smooth newt. It’s an Amphibian that can be found throughout Europe, as well as parts of Asia and Australia. It’s the only species of newt in Ireland.

The smooth newt is part of the Salamander family – Salamandridae (sub-family of Pleurodelinae) and is closely related to other amphibians. The newts have a lizard-like body, a long paddle-like tail, and smooth and moist skin.

What’s the difference between salamanders and newts?

Newts are a type of salamander, but not all salamanders are newts. Salamanders are divided into 10 families and one of them is Salamandridae, which newts are a part of.

The main difference between the two is that newts spend most of their time in the water while salamanders prefer land. Newts have paddle-like tails and webbed feet while salamanders have rounded tails and developed feet that can dig into the soil.

Where are newts located?

Newts are located in Europe, North America, North Africa, and Asia but have been sighted in Australia, which is outside its normal distribution range.

Smooth newts are widespread in Ireland and Britain.

What are the common species of newts?

In the UK, there are three common species of newts. The Smooth newt is the most widespread, followed by the Palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus) and Great Crested Newt (triturus cristatus).

There are over 60 species of newts worldwide, adult newts ranging in size from 7 cm to over 17.78 cm (7inches).

What do newts eat?

Newts are carnivorous and will eat a wide variety of prey, including insect larvae, earthworms, slugs, snails, tadpoles, and aquatic insects.

What are the characteristics of smooth newts?

The smooth newt has light beige or brown skin, sometimes with fine black speckling. Male and female smooth newts can easily be identified during mating season.

Males grow fringed feet, a long wavy crest, and vivid colors on their bodies during mating season to attract females. In contrast, females have throat spots that are paler than those of males.

How do newts mate?

Breeding season starts later in winter and throughout the early spring. Adult newts will find their way back to the ponds where they will breed. After locating a pond, male smooth newts will find a potential mate. Males use an intricate courtship dance and release pheromones to attract females who are then more likely to mate.

Male newts engage in indirect mating by assuming an amplexus position and depositing a spermatophore (collection of sperm) on the ground before moving away. The female newt moves to the area where the spermatophore is and collects the sperm for her cloaca to inseminate herself.

Once fertilized, the female newt abandons her eggs wrapped in a clear capsule on aquatic plants. Within two to four weeks, the larvae will hatch out of the eggs and slowly develop their front and back legs. The larvae will eventually leave the water to start their terrestrial phase as efts. They will live on land, hunting insects and slugs for food while sheltering in woodlands and gardens.

When they become adults, they will find their way back to the water to mate and start the process again.

What animals prey on newts?

Natural predators of newts vary whether they are underwater or on land. Pond animals such as fish, water beetles, dragonfly nymphs, and other adult newts. Many animals avoid eating newts because of their toxic skin secretions, but some carnivorous mammals, birds, fish, and other amphibians will still eat them.