A few weeks back we were walking along the trail and found this little guy crossing our path.
We speculated about what it could be. It looked like a lizard. It looked like a salamander. I could not recall if newts lived on land but offered up newt a possibility. We took some pictures and headed home to investigate.
My daughter went straight to her reptile and amphibian guide and discovered that it was an eastern newt in the eft stage.
We learned that newts start off in water as clear eggs much like frog eggs. Some newts lay eggs in masses, others on plants and still other wrap their eggs up in leaves to keep them safe.
They then hatch out into larva called tadpoles with gills and spend about 3-4 months in water. Most then develop lungs, exit the water and spend a few years on land as efts. The one pictured above is appropriately named a red eft.
As adults they return to the water where they mate and start the cycle again.
We read that newts live for approximately 12-20 years depending on the type of newt. Most will still venture on land but stay near water to keep their skin moist and mate.
We also found out that our thoughts about it being a salamander were not far off. Newts are actually salamanders, a group of amphibians who have tails as adults. This group also includes "true salamanders" and sirens.
This was a wonderful introduction to the world of the newt. It was a slow mellow little creature and we were delighted to meet it and watch as it gently moved off the path into the forest.
- If you would like to see neat photos of each stage in the newt life cycle check out this site.
- Want to know more about the differences between newts and "true salamanders?" The San Diego Zoo has a great site about salamanders.
- If you have a back yard pond (or want one) there are some good tips at the Wildlife Gardener for attracting newts to your garden pond.
And on top of all that... I think it is a beautiful fall color that red eft!
Have you seen any members of the salamander family in your neck of the woods?