Sharp-Ribbed Newt Fact File
Sharp-ribbed newts are also known as the Spanish or Iberian ribbed newt owing to their range across the Iberian peninsula with populations also occurring in Morocco.
These newts are entirely aquatic spending their time in the water where they will hunt for invertebrates and fish.
The sharp-ribbed newt is colored dark brown along with dark blotches across the sides. Running down the side are dull-orange circles. These mark the location of the pores where the ribs protrude.
During the breeding season males will take on a reddish hue to their body.
Typically the underside will be paler in color.
A leucistic variant of the sharp-ribbed newt occurs and is bred in captivity.
Their body is flattened, an adaptation which allows them to easily slip under logs and rocks. It is covered with small warts giving them a bumpy appearance.
Males typically have longer tails than females. The tail of both is shorter than the body’s snout-vent length.
During the breeding season males will also have special pads under their legs which are used to grasp the female during copulation.
An average sharp-ribbed newt will measure between 15 and 30cm (6-12in) long. Individuals in Northern Africa tend to be smaller than those which live in Europe.
Sharp-ribbed newts are carnivores. They feed on invertebrates and small fish. Carrion is also consumed on occasion.
Sharp-ribbed newts are native to Europe and Africa. Their range covers Spain, Portugal and Morocco.
They are primarily found in lowland areas not being found too far above sea level.
These animals are entirely aquatic. They will make their home in ponds or lagoons which are located in scrub or woodland. The water courses they select often have high levels of vegetation cover.
They will only leave their pools if the water level begins to fall and they must find another pond to live in.
Humans have provided additional habitats through the building of dams and irrigation systems.
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Sharp-ribbed newts will breed twice each year. The first season occurs in spring with the second taking place in midsummer.
Mating occurs in the water with males holding the female with his front legs. These mating events can last for hours or even days.
Egg laying occurs two days after the fertilization of the eggs.
The clutch size is variable based on the females size. It can vary anywhere from 100 to 1,000 eggs. The eggs are deposited in the pond on plants and stones.
Sharp-ribbed newts hatch in a larval form which they spend 3-5 months in.
These animals will seek shelter under stones or within mud.
Spanish-ribbed newts are not strong swimmers and tend to stick to slow moving bodies of water.
Outside of the breeding season these animals are primarily solitary.
Predators and Threats
Sharp-ribbed newts will defend themselves by injecting poison through the special rib bones which poke out through pores in the skin. They can also use glands at the back of their head to release poison with these glands also found in the tail.
These animals are threatened by the destruction of their habitat and pollution.
Introduced species of fish and crayfish will eat the eggs and larva of the sharp-ribbed newt.
In some populations they are increasingly falling victim to vehicle strikes.
These animals are also know as the Spanish ribbed-newt or Iberian ribbed newt.
Sharp-ribbed newts have also been used in laboratories for studies in to organ regeneration and testing related to zero-gravity.
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