Not being a newt expert, the identity of the little chap in the last post has got me consulting the reference books. It seems that newts are complicated. Males and females can look quite different, and they change colouring for the breeding season. Our three species of native newts can therefore have twelve different appearances! But by some detective work I think I can identify this one.
I can rule out the Great Crested Newt, which is bigger with knobbly skin, and the male has a distinct jagged crest at this time of year. Plus they’re quite rare. That leaves the Smooth Newt and Palmate Newts. The males of both of these develop spots in the breeding season, so it could be either of them. The Smooth Newt has spots on its underside, whilst the Palmate Newt does not, but unfortunately I didn’t pick this one up and have a look. The Palmate Newt has a tail filament (a short thread on the end of the tail) while the Smooth Newt doesn’t, but again, I didn’t know about this feature or look for it.
There is one clinching feature though. Apparently the male Palmate Newt has webbed rear feet in the breeding season. My newt did not. This means it isn’t a Palmate and must be a Smooth Newt. It makes sense, they are our most common newt and known for living in small ponds.
So there you have it – a Smooth Newt. and a new species for me here in Bedfordshire. I told you that newts were complicated…