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let's hear it for smooth newts

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: Herpetofauna Native to the UK
Forum Name: Smooth Newt
Forum Description: Forum for all issues concerning Triturus vulgaris
Printed Date: 26 Feb 2020 at 8:29pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.06 -

Topic: let's hear it for smooth newts
Posted By: will
Subject: let's hear it for smooth newts
Date Posted: 13 Apr 2014 at 8:00pm
I'm guilty of overlooking these entrancing animals, easier to watch than their bigger cousins and more 'aquabatic' underwater, too, with mid-water dancing and snapping up of daphnia etc.  I had never noticed before that males' eyes seem to get more yellow in spring, along with their generally heightened colouration and wavy crests, too.

Posted By: Suzy
Date Posted: 13 Apr 2014 at 11:56pm


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 14 Apr 2014 at 8:03am
Excellent Will, maybe you should do the newt herpcam!

Posted By: will
Date Posted: 14 Apr 2014 at 2:46pm
thanks guys; I couldn't manage the technology of a herpcam, though! I always wanted a pond with a (reinforced) glass side to it, a bit like the otter pool at London Zoo, so you could get a newt's eye view of what happens underwater though.

Posted By: Iulia
Date Posted: 14 Apr 2014 at 10:29pm
and smooth newts out of the water look like little pickled gherkins Wink

Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 14 Apr 2014 at 10:35pm
my favourite newts will!


Posted By: Liz Heard
Date Posted: 15 Apr 2014 at 6:30pm
Great stuff Will. Good to celebrate them and superb pix - as ever!

Personally, can't choose between the native newt species. Love them all equally. Palmates have a special place for me as they were the first species encountered, GCN the most striking/spectacular and Smooths i admire for their success as a species!
And all are gorgeous!

Posted By: will
Date Posted: 15 Apr 2014 at 8:42pm
I can't choose between them, myself, Ben - I still remember being tuned in to herps via the smooth newts in the pond as a small boy, then the thrill of my first GCN rising from the depths of an Oxfordshire pond when I was about 12yrs old, then the elusive (for me, coming from London) palmate newt, always associated with exotic places like Cornwall, Dorset and Epping Forest!

anyway, here's another smooth newt waving at the camera for today:

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 15 Apr 2014 at 8:58pm
Likewise to the above, first herp I ever saw was a terrestrial stage smooth newt my Dad found at the base of a wall when gardening. I was just a toddler but I remember it still to this day. He called me over and there was this amazing 'thing' sat in his open palm, and it sparked off my interest in herps there and then.

It was many years (and plenty of newting) later I netted out my first GCN from a pond in Glemsford Suffolk. I thought I had caught the Loch Ness Monster!

Palmate too, many happy days finding hundreds of them in tiny water bodies such as tractor ruts on the holidays to the Surrey heaths as a child gives them just as much appeal. 

Posted By: Liz Heard
Date Posted: 15 Apr 2014 at 9:29pm
Originally posted by GemmaJF GemmaJF wrote:

I thought I had caught the Loch Ness Monster!

Yeah, i know exactly what you mean Gemma!
What a moment that was!

Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 15 Apr 2014 at 11:19pm
its the awe and joy they brought me as a child that makes them special for me. didn't see a palmate for many years and i never really felt as though i was able to engage fully with the few GCN i have seen because of the protection...its always been a bit like watching them through glass or something.


Posted By: will
Date Posted: 16 Apr 2014 at 8:55am
Tim, don't get me started on how a whole generation of potential newtologists has been put off looking for GCN using torchlight surveys or pond dipping due to clumsy 'one size fits all' protected species legislation; a real shame that many enthusiasts, including yourself, have been put off because of this.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 16 Apr 2014 at 10:04am
I can agree with that Will. That first GCN I caught was prior to the WCA but it wasn't many years afterwards the legislation came about and I felt like a criminal for catching one a few years before!

Was having a conversation about this the other day with a friend, partly sparked off from our discussion on the public perception/knowledge of herps we had on here the other day. Conclusion was it is very difficult to get the public interested in the plight of herps if they do not even know what they are. Harder still if they are in someway restricted from access to them. It's pretty clear from this thread that as a group we mostly got interested from early experiences of contact with the animals.

Yet the message even school children are given is 'don't touch' to the point where I've even had kids come up to me during surveys and tell me what I'm doing is 'illegal'. 

I do carry the silly bit of paper now called a 'class licence' anyone can print from the net to reassure people and I make sure the kids get a good look at any animals I'm finding and handle them too if they are willing.

Having said this I've never really made much effort with smooth snakes, sand lizards or natterjacks, not being a licence holder. There were also very many years that passed with no newting, between catching the Loch Ness Monster and holding a GCN survey licence... 

Posted By: will
Date Posted: 16 Apr 2014 at 4:29pm
Agree with all of that, Gemma - I'm sure I've said it elsewhere, but a certain D. Attenborough cites watching GCN as a boy as the formative influence that kick-started his lifelong passion for wildlife...

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