The great crested newt is the UK’s biggest species of newt. They are almost black in colour, with spotted flanks and a striking, orange belly. Their skin is warty. The males have a long, wavy crest along the body and on the tail during the breeding season, giving them the appearance of mini dinosaurs.The British populations of this rare amphibian are internationally important.
The great crested newt spends the spring breeding in ponds and most of the rest of the year feeding on invertebrates in woodland, hedgerows and tussocky grassland. They hibernate underground amongst tree roots and in old walls from October – March.
- Length: up to 16cm
- Average Lifespan: up to 15 years
Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981,and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Widespread across lowland England and Wales. Scattered populations in Scotland.
When to see
March – October
- Individual great crested newts can be identified by looking at their bellies: the pattern of black spots is as unique as a fingerprint.
- As well as their distinctive crests, males have an extravagant courtship display to woo females: they stand on their front legs, arch their back and wave their tail around as if they are dancing.
- Like other newts, the great crested newt can re-grow body parts that it has lost