Newt, a salamander found in or near freshwater in North America, Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Most newts spend part of their lives in water and part on land. Most newts are two to six inches (5 to 15 cm) long. Newts have slender bodies, short legs, and long tails. They are greenish, brownish, or blackish above, and yellowish, orangish, or reddish below. The body is typically striped or spotted. The skin of many species secretes a substance that is toxic to predators. Newts feed on insects, spiders, worms, crustaceans, molluscs, and the eggs and larvae of other amphibians.

NewtsNewts have slender bodies, short legs, and long tails.

The female lays as many as 400 eggs on submerged vegetation or submerged rocks. Larvae emerge from the eggs in about five weeks. The larvae of some species change into adults in three or four months. Newts of a few species remain in the larval form their entire lives but can reproduce. The larva of the eastern newt, a species found mostly in the eastern United States, lives on land for one to three years and then returns to the water to change into the adult form. In its larval form the animal is known as the red eft. As an adult it is greenish-brown.

Eastern newtsEastern newts go from plant to plant laying one egg at a time.

The California newt is found mostly along the Pacific coast. The larvae are aquatic. They mature into land-dwelling adults, which return to the water only to breed. The California newt is tan or reddish-brown above and yellowish-orange below.

The great (or northern) crested newt of England is about six inches (15 cm) long. The male has a high, fleshy crest down its back and tail.

What Is an Eft?

After metamorphosis, like other salamanders, newts move to land and begin to mature. After they become adults and return to the water to mate, however, they then may live in the pond or stream for the rest of their lives.

Before it returns to the water to mate, a newt lives and wanders in the forest for years. A young newt in this stage is called an eft. It may take the eft, or migrating (MY grayt ing) salamander, anywhere between one and three years to mature to adulthood.

Where Do Newts Lay Eggs?

It’s usually pretty easy to spot a clutch of salamander eggs. They look like a mound of bubbles or jelly, and you can count each egg.

Red-spotted, or eastern, newts make such counting a little tougher, however. Instead of laying all their eggs at once, these newts go from plant to plant laying one egg at a time. They stick each egg onto a plant with a bit of jellylike substance they produce. It can take months for a spotted newt to lay all of her eggs.

After newt larvae hatch, they remain loners. They stay away from other newts as well as from predators. When they grow into adults, each newt will have its own markings. No two newts will look exactly the same.

Why Do Newts Wiggle That Way?

Newts and other salamanders have very short, little legs. Some salamanders that spend a lot of time in the water don’t even have back legs. But they do have very flexible bodies. So they make the most of what they have.

On land, newts and salamanders bend their bodies from side to side when they walk. The way they move helps them support their bodies. Their tails are used for support, too. In the water, these animals move their bodies and tails in an S-shape and swim like fish.

Each of these strategies works. Both newts and salamanders can move away quickly when they need to escape.

The eastern newt is Notophthalmus viridescens viridescens; the California newt is Taricha torosa; the great crested newt, Triturus cristatus. Newts belong to the family Salamandridae of the order Urodela.