Newts are part of the Salamander (Salamandridae) family. Newts are commonly used to describe salamanders that live most of the year on land. In addition, newts have a rougher skin texture than salamanders and have tails in the shape of paddles.
Some interesting facts:
- Newts can regenerate several of their limbs and organs. The organs they can regenerate range from bones, such as the spinal cord, their intestines or even their hearts.
- Many newts can be very toxic. For example, the toxin from a Rough Skinned Newt could kill a human, but the toxicity is greatest if ingested, generally casual handling of newts is not harmful.
- Newts have long lifespans and can live over 25 years!
- Newts are carnivorous and insectivorous, eating insects and even small fish.
- Although nowhere near the top of the food chain, newts are major predatory animals in ponds. Some of the larger species are even known to eat the smaller ones.
- Newts also hibernate in different places during the winter. While some may choose to sleep at the bottom of a pond, others can be found under logs or in dam areas.
- Female newts perform a distinct ritual when laying eggs. They source out one leaf that has the minerals the egg needs to survive. She then lays one egg and glues the leaf shut.
- Certain newt species will play dead if threatened by a predator by rolling onto their back and curling up.
Finally, the newt is famously mentioned in Monty Python’s Holy Grail movie during a scene where a peasant claims to have been turned into a newt by a witch:
Peasant: “She turned me in to a newt!”
Sir Bedivere: “A newt???”
Peasant: “Well I got better…”
-Monty Python and the Holy Grail