Smooth Newt

The smooth newt is also called striped newt, garden newt, water newt, spotted newt, or small water salamander.


What do smooth newts look like?

The smooth newt belongs to the newt and salamander family and is an amphibian. These are animals that live both on land and in water.

Smooth newts are slender, have a tail that is compressed laterally, and grow to be 9.5 to 11 centimeters long. Five to seven dark stripes run across the head.

As long as they live in the country – that is from autumn to spring – females and males look quite similar. They are quite inconspicuous: the females are sandy to light brown in color and have small dark spots. The males are slightly darker and have larger spots.

When they migrate to ponds and ponds in spring to reproduce there, they put on their “water dress”.

The males suddenly look like miniature dragons: they get a high, wavy crest that runs down the entire back to the end of the tail.

Their belly and the lower edge of their tails are bright oranges in color, there is an additional silvery-blue stripe over the stripe on their tails and the whole body is covered with large dark spots.

The females are not as brightly colored during this time either, but they are a little brighter than in the countryside.

Smooth newts are cold-blooded animals: their body temperature, therefore, depends on the temperature of their surroundings.

If it’s cold, they’re stiff, if it’s warm, their body temperature rises and they become very lively.

Where do smooth newts live?

Smooth newts live almost all over Europe, from France to Siberia. Only in northern Scandinavia, southern France, southern Italy and Spain do they not exist.

In summer, smooth newts live in pools, ponds, or slow-flowing streams. They like bodies of water that are exposed to the sun and where many aquatic plants grow. When they leave the water and go ashore after breeding in the fall, they seek moist, cool hiding spots under rock piles, tree roots, foliage, or in the soil. They also spend the winter there.

What types of smooth newts are there?

There are some subspecies of smooth newts in different parts of Europe, but they differ only slightly from each other.

Smooth newts are easily confused with the thread newt.

We also have the crested newt, the mountain newt, and the Carpathian newt.

How old do smooth newts get?

Captive smooth newts can live for over 20 years.


How do smooth newts live?

As soon as it gets a little warmer in February or March, the smooth newts migrate to their spawning grounds. If they live in water, they are diurnal. They usually cavort in the uppermost layers of a pond, which are warmed by the sun.

When threatened, they hide between dense underwater plants or even dig themselves into the mud at the bottom of the pond. In October/November they leave the water and look for cool, damp places on land. During this time, they can only be spotted at night from 11 p.m. to around 3 a.m. when they leave their hiding places.

Friends and foes of the smooth newt

Smooth newts have many enemies: The larvae of many aquatic insects, fish, birds such as storks and herons. And even other larger species of newts – for example, the crested newt – eat adult smooth newts and their larvae.

Mating season for smooth newts

During the mating season, the male smooth newt puts on his “wedding dress”. Then the little salamander looks like a miniature dragon.

How do smooth newts reproduce?

When a male smooth newt wants to mate with a female, it first has to perform a complicated courtship ritual: it swims in front of the female, stops, turns, and shows her its brightly colored side. It then vibrates its tail, “wagging” scents to its partner.

When she has repeated this several times and the female smooth newt is ready to mate, she swims towards the male and gives the male a signal: nudge the male with the tip of the snout.

Then the male deposits a spermatophore. This is an enveloped packet containing countless sperm.

The female takes up the spermatophore with her body opening, the cloaca so that the eggs in her abdomen can be fertilized.

Over a period of several weeks, the female lays up to 300 eggs:

With its hind legs, it looks for a suitable leaf of an underwater plant, folds it into a bag, and lays an egg inside. The embryo develops in this leaf pouch.

After three to five weeks, a newt larva swims out of the protective shell.

Newt larvae look like tiny newts but have gill tufts on the sides of their heads, which they use to absorb oxygen from the water.

When they have turned into a real newt after two to four months – this is called metamorphosis – the gill tufts disappear and they breathe with their lungs.

They finally climb ashore in the fall.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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