|In total there are 100 species of
newts. In Scandinavia there are two species, the common smooth newt and
the more sensitive and southern great crested newt which can grow to be
twice the size in length of the smaller one.
Like all amphibians in Sweden the newts are a protected species and the population has decreased steadily along with the rate of draining our landscape. The newt often populates habitats far away from amphibian areas which make them very vulnerable. If the habitat is destroyed or altered in a negative manner the newt population will most likely diminish. Om något negativt händer kan dessa lokala bestånd dö ut utan att platsen kan återkoloniseras från andra grupper pga de för långa avstånden.
If some desaster happens at a site a recolonisation by other groups from other far away habitats could be difficult to effort if the distance is too great to cross over.
Today there is new hope for the newts as habitats such as dams, wetlands and smaller ponds for amphibians are constructed. There are many similarities between the two current newt species, but also some thrilling differences.
In the daytime the great crested newt spends it’s time along the bottom of the water to hunt for some larger prey and is only to be seen when briefly catching air from the surface. It is mostly active after sunset and sometimes all night and when it rains the large newt will occasionally leave the water for some larger prey. The smooth newt on the other hand will often float in warm and sunny shallow areas and does not leave the water for hunting.
Both species lay their eggs on leaves of underwater plants where the great crested newt makes the effort to fold and wrap every single egg. The smooth newt seems to lay its eggs unprotected on murky leaves more often. Circumstances from millions of years ago has resulted in a genetic defect in the great crested newt’s reproduction and only half of the eggs develop to become living larvae. Although facing this defect the great crested newt has survived from ancient times.
The amphibians live both on land and in water and have therefore been given the name Amphibian which is inherited from the Greek language meaning ”to live on both sides”(referring to the two different habitats during a newt’s lifecycle). Maybe this is the reason why amphibians are portrayed in fairy-tails and poems as disguised princes. ”Amphibians are fascinating! To be able to watch larvae magically develop and grow into terrestrial beings is to experience one of nature’s amazing marvel’s...”!*
Newt’s live the majority of their life hidden, crawling in under rocks, into rodent-holes, piles of leaves and wooden stumps. Although small, on warm and damp nights they sometimes wander quite far and have been found 500m from their home habitats. These little creatures can reach the age of 25!
* Quoted from Artdatabanken och Naturskyddsföreningens broschure" Grodans år".
Males of smooth newt (up) and great crested newt (down).
|© Peter Feuerbach