Palmate Newt Fact File
The palmate newt is a species of newt found near water in the forests, marshes and healthlands of Western Europe and the United Kingdom.
During the breeding season a male will develop tail filaments which extend out and generate black webbing between the back toes.
After hatching from their eggs the palmate newt starts life as a larva or tadpole. These have feathery gills around the head to help them breathe. After a period of time in the water they develop in to an adult frog.
Learn more about these amazing amphibians by reading on below.
Males and females exhibit sexual dimorphism. Running along the back of a male is an orange streak. Extending from the end of the tail is thin filaments which the females lack.
Both the male and female are colored olive-green or brown across the body. Running from the nose through the eyes is a dark stripe. On the underside they are colored a pale pink or orange.
Across their body the skin is smooth.
On the back feet the males develop webbing which is colored black during the breeding season.
The female tends to be slightly larger than the male. They reach a total length up to 9cm (3.5in) long.
Palamte newts are carnivores. They feed on a range of aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates. Frog spawn and tadpoles may also be consumed. Some have been recorded to cannibalize other members of their species.
Europe is the native home of the palmate newt. Here they are found in Belgium; Czechia; France; Germany; Luxembourg; Netherlands; Portugal; Spain; Switzerland and United Kingdom.
A population which previously existed in the south-east of France is now believed to be extinct.
Palmate newts will make their home in marshes, heathlands, moorlands and forests. They will make their home alongside humans on agricultural land.
They show a preference for shallow pools in acidic areas.
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Breeding takes place from February until May after they emerge from their period of hibernation. In parts of their range it may begin earlier or end later. Their courtship occurs in the water.
Each female may lay between 290 and 440 eggs each year. These are attached to a water plant. After 8 to 14 days the young will emerge from their eggs as a tadpole.
They spend the next six weeks developing until they complete their metamorphosis. In parts of their range though they may over winter in the water and not complete this till next year.
The larvae or tadpoles are colored light beige or brown with small black speckles across the body. Around the head are feathery gills. These are absorbed in to the body when they metamorphose and leave the water.
Sexual maturity is reached at 2 years old.
In parts of their range they overlap with the smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris). Hybrids of the two species have been recorded in the wild.
From November to March they will hibernate under a log or stone. This is primarily undertaken in the colder, northern areas of their range.
Palmate newts may be active both by day or night.
Predators and Threats
The species is threatened by drainage and pollution within their breeding pools. Another threat is presented by the introduction of predatory fish and crayfish. In southern areas they are affected by the desertification of their habitat. Forest and road construction within their habitats offer an additional threat.
Across much of their range they are common and the population is considered stable but some local sub-populations are believed to be endangered. In all countries where they live they are offered protection by law.
The palmate newt was first described for science in 1789 by a Russian naturalist.
Holger Krisp, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Frank Vassen from Brussels, Belgium, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Gilles San Martin from Namur, Belgium, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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