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Palmate Newt

The Palmate Newt (Triturus helvetica) is a species of newt found in parts of Great Britain, Western and Northern Europe. It 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 2 to 3 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 also 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 color 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 - May. The crest and filament become less obvious and may disappear at other times when they become terrestrial. Males also have marked dorsolateral ridges, giving them a rather square cross-section. Females grow to 10cm (4in) and males to 8.5cm (3.3in). During 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 also frog tadpoles. They are also known to display cannibalistic tendencies and they can live for upto 10 years. It is an endangered species and is protected by law in all countries where it occurs, but is thought to be extreemly 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 (also known as T. h. sequeirai) occurs in the north-western corner of the Iberian peninsula.

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