Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus)

In general, you are less likely to see a palmate newt in your garden pond, than a Smooth Newt, because they prefer shallow ponds, on acid rich heathlands and woodlands.

However, if you live near this type of habitat, for example in Wales, Scotland, the South West, the Pennines, or indeed in lowland heathland England, then it is worth taking a second look, as you may be lucky enough to spot a Palmate Newt.

palmate male the best so far copyright David Orchard

Palmate newt – copyright David Orchard

Identification

The Palmate Newt is superficially very similar to the smooth newt being brownish in colour, with a yellow/orange belly. The key differences are: that it is slightly smaller and lacks the distinctive black spots on its throat. In addition, the male has a long, bare filament at the end of his tail, and black webbing on his back toes.

Lifecycle

The lifecycle of the Palmate Newt is very similar to that of the Smooth Newt, and they can be seen in ponds from February onwards, breeding during the spring months. Like the other two species of newt, the female wraps her eggs in the leaves of aquatic plants, and the tadpoles hatch a few weeks after. The young newts metamorphose into the terrestrial form after a further 9 weeks or so, once again the front legs developing first.

Palmate Newts hibernate over winter in damp, sheltered places like log piles and under stones, though some will remain in the pond as tadpoles, developing fully during the next spring. If you have Palmate Newts in your garden then you can help them by providing some undisturbed hibernation places for them.