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Young newts spotted in our tiny pond

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 11 Jul 2013 at 01:13 PM

The last time I wrote, two smooth newts (Lissotriton vulgaris) had recently arrived in the tiny pond in the garden and were making themselves at home. We’d gone out to get some plants and I’d begged some weed and water from a nearby pond.



We kept an eye on the pond, but didn’t see much of the newts; frequently all we saw was a tail disappearing into the weeds. At least it showed they were still there, but we wanted to see more. Then, one day, we had a treat. Looking into the water, we saw one of the newts behaving oddly. First it would thrash its tail about, as if trying to scratch its belly and then it seemed to do a little dance, jigging its feet up and down. There was a pause and then the same sequence of movements was carried out. It was the male newt’s mating dance, carried out to draw the female. The female suitably attracted, the male then deposits a capsule containing sperm which the female picks up in her cloaca, drawing it into herself where fertilisation takes place. A few days later, she will start laying eggs, which are carefully hidden in rolled up leaves. All being well, the eggs hatch out within two to three weeks.

 

 

 

 

We kept looking and then, right on time, the first young newt was spotted. In the picture above, you can just make out the feathery gills on either side of its head. Young newts are known as efts, which is a strange sounding word. It comes from the Old English word ‘efte’, or ‘efeta’, meaning a "small lizard-like animal" and is of unknown origin.

 

 

 

 

A few days later and we’ve seen five efts. A female newt can lay up to 300 eggs, but whether that will happen in such a small pond is another matter. We’ll keep watching and counting. At the moment, they will be eating freshwater plankton, and later on, insect larvae and molluscs. This pond is still quite new and, whilst we’ve seen insect larvae and various tiny creatures flitting about under the water, I don’t know what other foods there are so have taken the precaution of putting in a teaspoon of blood worms and we’ll see if they like them or not.

It’s enormously pleasing to find that even such a small pond has attracted newts to breed in it and we are grateful for their help in the garden, as there is very little slug damage to the plants.

In other news, the garden has suddenly filled up with young birds, especially blackbirds. They are in the greenhouse, in the shrubs and borders, on the lawn, hanging around the water dishes and as many as eight blackbirds have been spotted sunbathing together. I suppose they will disperse in time, but it’s pleasing that they like the garden. Thrushes have also returned, after a short absence, and can often be heard whacking snail shells on stones. The woodpeckers have also introduced their young ones to the hanging peanut feeder, where they take turns to peck at the nuts. Between them all, these welcome beings are keeping the garden remarkably pest free. 

Comments

richardpeeej said:

Oh that was a very interesting write up Miranda. It is always good to read what you have been doing. You have inspired me to make another little pond now. Hope you get many more newts and even more efte .... :-) x

on 11 Jul 2013 at 10:29 PM

GROWMORE said:

Miranda.  You lucky lass.  Mike aka GROWMORE is now 73, but to hear the acclaimation...newts.  takes me back to childhood days.  In those days, they representd minature crocs or alligators.  Strange how the young minds work.  Miranda, these tiny creatures are so beautiful.  During my working days.  I often dug these tiny friends up, along with toads.  You could find them keeping cool beneath rocks and large stones.  The great crestead always reminded me of som prehistoric monster, being viewed through a telescope..the wrong way around.  Now a a FLS.  I believe the common newt, and especially the Gt. Crested, are classified as a protective specie.  From what I have observed over the years.  The best way of keeping them, as such.  This has to mean.  Accommadating them in a garden pond.  I think, to keep them in an aquarium or such is illegal.  However these tiny creatures ask little of us humans.  A peaceful location, even a tiny pond, easy access to surrounding area.  Perhaps they might be saying.  Leave us in peace, and we will stay with you.

Miranda.  What a lucky lass you are.

Best wishes.  Mike.

on 11 Jul 2013 at 10:53 PM

Phot's-Moll said:

I like the efts. If you should get to many please tell them there are plenty of juicy slugs down my way.

on 15 Jul 2013 at 07:14 PM