Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris)

Smaller than the Great Crested Newt, the Smooth Newt is most common native newt species, in Britain, and the one you are most likely to see in garden ponds.

These are thought to now be an important habitat for this species due to the decline of ponds in the countryside.

Smooth Newts

Smooth Newt eating frogspawn

Identification

Outside of the breeding season both males and females are quite difficult to distinguish from one another, both being about 10cm in length and of a pale brown or olive green colouration, except that the male has a black line running down the spine and the female has two lines running either side of the spine. Both sexes have an orange belly, although it is paler in females, which is covered in black spots. The throat is paler and spotted. During the breeding season both males and females become more strikingly coloured with orange bellies. The male develops a continuous tall wavy transparent crest along the spine and tail, with dark spots covering the rest of the body, including the stomach area, and also develops small fringes to the toes.

Habitats

Smooth newts can be found in a variety of habitats outside the breeding season, inhabiting deciduous woodland, wet heathland, bogs, marshes, gardens, parks and farmland. They prefer standing water with plenty of weeds, such as lake margins, ponds and ditches, in which to breed.

Young newt among autumn leaves - copyright Neil Phillips

Young newt among autumn leaves – copyright Neil Phillips