Great crested newts are amphibians, breeding in ponds during the spring and spending 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. The British populations of this rare amphibian are internationally important.
Our biggest newt, the Great Crested Newt is almost black in colour, with spotted flanks and a striking, orange belly. The 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.
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.
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.