Palmate Newt - Triturus helvetica, click for a larger image, photo licensed for reuse
Photo ©1999 - Christian Fischer
Click any photo for a larger image
Palmate Newt - Triturus helvetica, click for a larger image, photo licensed for reuse
Photo ©2006 - Velela

Palmate Newt - Triturus helvetica

Widespread in Great Britain, and Western Europe, the palmate newt can be found in ponds, lakes, canals, marshes, forests, pasture or agricultural land, sometimes in acid pools on upland moors or coastal areas.  It spends the breeding season (February to May), in water laying 100 to 300 eggs which hatch into larvae in about two to three weeks and then metamorphose after a further 6-9 weeks.  In colder areas the larvae often over winter in the water and then metamorphose the next year.  They become sexually mature in the second year, but neoteny is known to occur in this species.  Adults hibernate on land under logs and stones between November and March, or more rarely in water.

The base colour of both sexes is olive-green or brown, males ♂ and some females ♀ have a dark spotting on the back.  Sometimes confused with the smooth newt, the palmate does not have the spotted throat of the smooth newt, but both sexes have a yellow or pale orange belly that can show some spotting.  Males have webbed hind feet and a low, smooth crest along the back that continues into a slightly higher crest on the tail ending in a thread like tip during the breeding season of April to May.  The crest and filament become less obvious and may disappear at other times when they become terrestrial.  Males have marked dorsolateral ridges, giving them a rather square cross-section.  Females grow to 10cm (4in) and males to 8.5cm (3.3in).  Curing the breeding season they are active during the day as well as night, however outside this period, activity is restricted to rainy or humid nights.

They feed on invertebrates, small crustaceans, planktonic animals, Daphnia and Frog tadpoles.  They are known to display cannibalistic tendencies and they can live for up to ten years.  The Palmate Newt is protected by law in all countries where it occurs, but is thought to be extremely rare to endangered in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg and vulnerable in Germany, but common elsewhere.  Related subspecies T. h. helveticus found in northern Germany to northeastern Spain, T. h. punctillatus in the Sierra de la Demanda area, Spain, and T. h. alonsoi ( known as T. h. sequeirai) occurs in the north-western corner of the Iberian peninsula.

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