The crested newt got its name because of its long crest, stretching along the back and tail. These amphibians are often kept by collectors. In their natural habitat, their numbers are constantly decreasing. The animal looks like a toad or a lizard, but is neither. They can live both on land and in water.
Origin of the species and description
Triturus cristatus comes from the genus Triturus and belong to the order of tailed amphibians. The subclass Amphipoda belongs to the class Amphibians.
Newts belong to the following families:
- lungless salamanders .
It was previously thought that the species included 4 subspecies: T. c. cristatus, T. c. dobrogicus, T. c. karelinii and T. c. carnifex. Now naturalists do not distinguish subspecies from these amphibians. The view was discovered in 1553 by the Swiss explorer K. Gesner. For the first time he named it a water lizard. The name tritons was given to the genus by the Austrian scientist I. Laurenti in 1768.
Video: Crested newt
In ancient Greek mythology, Triton was the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite. During the Flood, he blew his horn on the orders of his father and the waves receded. In the battle with the giants, the god hollowed out a sea shell and the giants fled. Triton was depicted with a human body and dolphin tails instead of legs. Helped the Argonauts to leave their lake and go to the open sea.
Interesting fact: A representative of the genus has a unique property of regeneration. Amphibians can regenerate lost tails, legs, or tails. R. Mattei made an amazing discovery in 1925 – animals can regenerate internal organs and vision even after cutting the optic nerve.
Appearance and features
The size of adults reaches 11-18 centimeters, in Europe – up to 20 centimeters. The body is spindle-shaped, the head is large, flat. They are connected by a short neck. The tail is flattened. Its length is approximately equal to the length of the body. The limbs are the same, well developed. On the front paws, 3-4 thin fingers, on the hind legs, 5.
Breathing of the larvae is carried out through the gills. Adult amphibians breathe with skin and lungs, into which gills are converted. With the help of a leathery trim on the tail of an amphibian, oxygen is obtained from the water. If animals choose a terrestrial way of life, it disappears as unnecessary. Newts can squeak, squeak or whistle.
Interesting fact: Although amphibian eyesight is very poor, the sense of smell is excellently developed: crested newts can smell prey at a distance of 200-300 meters.</em >
The species differs from the common newt in the absence of a black longitudinal stripe between the eyes. The upper part of the body is dark with little visible spots. The belly is yellow or orange. There are many clusters of white dots on the cheeks and sides. The throat is dark, sometimes yellowish, with white dots. The teeth are in two parallel rows. The structure of the jaws allows you to firmly hold the victim.
The skin, depending on the species, may be smooth or bumpy. Rough to the touch. On the belly, usually without a pronounced relief, coarse-grained on the back. The color depends not only on the species, but also on the habitat. These factors influence the shape and size of the dorsal crest of the male, which grows by the mating season.
The crest can reach a height of one and a half centimeters, and the isthmus is pronounced at the tail. The most toothed part, running from the head to the base of the tail. The tail part is slightly pronounced. In normal times, the crest is almost invisible in males.
Where does the crested newt live?
Area habitats of creatures is very wide. It includes most of Europe, including the UK, but not including Ireland. Amphibians live in Ukraine, in the west of Russia. The southern border runs along Romania, the Alps, Moldova, the Black Sea. In the north it borders on Finland and Sweden.
Most often found in forest areas with small water bodies – lakes, ponds, ditches, creeks, peat bogs, canals. Most of the time is spent on the shore, so shelters are found in rotten stumps, mole holes, and the bark of fallen trees.
Animals live on almost all continents except Australia, Antarctica, Africa. You can meet them in North and South America, Asia and even beyond the Arctic Circle. Creatures choose places with an abundance of vegetation. Avoid polluted areas. In spring and until mid-summer they sit in the water. After landfall, the creatures hide in shelters.
When cold weather sets in, amphibians hibernate for 7-8 months and burrow underground, rotten trees, deadwood or a pile of fallen leaves. Sometimes you can see clusters of creatures clinging to each other. Individuals are better adapted to open spaces. It is very difficult to meet crested newts in agricultural areas and populated areas.
The depth of reservoirs is usually no more than one and a half meters, more often 0.7-0.9 meters. Temporary reservoirs may not exceed 0.2-0.3 meters. Animals wake up in the second half of April, when the air warms up to 9-10 degrees. Mass settlement of reservoirs occurs with water temperatures above 12-13 degrees.
What does the crested newt eat?
The diet is different from that on land.
In the water, amphibians eat:
- water beetles;
- small crustaceans;
- mosquito larvae;
- water bugs.
On land, meals are less frequent and in smaller quantities.
For the most part:
- insects and larvae;
- empty acorns.
Poor eyesight does not allow catching nimble animals, so the newt often starves. The lateral line organs help to catch amphipods swimming up to the amphibian snout at a distance of one centimeter. Tritons hunt for fish eggs and tadpoles. Mollusks make up about 60% of the diet of amphibians, insect larvae – up to 40%.
On land, earthworms make up to 60% of the diet, slugs 10-20%, insects and their larvae – 20-40%, small individuals another kind – 5%. In home breeding conditions, adults are fed with house or banana crickets, flour or earthworms, cockroaches, mollusks and other insects. In the water, creatures are given snails, bloodworms, tubifexes.
An attack on individuals of its own species, but smaller in size, in some areas has led to a decrease in the population. On land, amphibians hunt mainly at night or during the day in rainy weather. They catch everything that comes close and fits in the mouth.
Only hatched larvae feed on zooplankton. As they grow older, they move to larger prey. At the larval stage, newts feed on gastropods, caddis flies, spiders, cladocerans, laminabranchs, and copepods. The creatures have a pretty good appetite, and they often attack prey that are larger than their size.
Now you know how to feed the crested newt. Let’s see how he lives in the wild.
Character and lifestyle features
Crested newts begin their activity in March-April, after the ice melts. Depending on the range, this process can last from February to May. Creatures prefer a nocturnal lifestyle, but during the mating season they can be active for days.
Animals are good swimmers and feel more comfortable in the water than on land. The tail is used as a mover. Amphibians move quickly along the bottom of water bodies, while running on land looks rather clumsy.
After the end of the breeding season, individuals move to land, but some males prefer to stay in the water until late autumn. Although they move with difficulty on the ground, during periods of danger, animals can move quickly.
Amphibians can crawl away from water bodies for one and a half kilometers. The most confident travelers are juveniles of one to two years of age. Tritons with great experience try to settle near water. Hibernation holes are not dug on their own. Ready to use. They clog in them in groups to lose less moisture.
At home, amphibians live much longer than in the natural environment. In captivity, where nothing threatens them, newts can live for a relatively long time. The oldest recorded individual died at the age of 28, a record even among centenarians.
Social Structure and Reproduction
After emerging from hibernation, amphibians return to the reservoir where they were born. Males arrive first. If it rains, the path will be easy, in case of frost it will be difficult to get there. The male occupies his territory and awaits the arrival of the female.
When a female is nearby, the male spreads pheromones by actively waving his tail. The gentleman performs a mating dance, trying to charm his beloved, bending his whole body, rubbing against her, lightly hitting his head with his tail. At the end of the process, the male deposits the spermatophore to the bottom, and the female picks it up with her cloaca.
Fertilization takes place inside the body. The female lays white, yellowish or yellow-green eggs about 5 mm in diameter in late spring and early summer. The eggs are twisted in 2-3 pieces into the leaves of aquatic plants. After 14-18 days, larvae appear. At first they feed on the substance from the yolk sacs, and then they hunt zooplankton.
Green larvae, golden belly and sides. Tail and fin in dark spots with white edging. Gills are reddish. They grow up to 8 centimeters in length. Unlike closely related species, they live in the water column, and not at the bottom, so they are often eaten by predatory fish.
Interesting fact: The forelimbs grow first in larvae. The rear ones take about 7-8 weeks to grow.
Larval development lasts about 3 months, after which the young individuals emerge from the water onto land. When the reservoir dries up, the process accelerates, and when there is enough water, on the contrary, it lasts longer. Untransformed larvae in this form hibernate. But no more than a third of them survive until spring.
Natural enemies of crested newts
Amphibian skin highlights mucus and a poisonous substance that can infect another animal.
But, despite this, the newt has many natural enemies:
- green frogs;
- some fish;
- storks and other birds.
Sometimes a marsh turtle or a black stork can encroach on the life of an amphibian. Many aquatic predators are not averse to eating larvae – some species of fish, amphibians, and invertebrates. Cannibalism is common in captivity. Some populations suffer greatly from introduced fish.
Along with food, parasites that cause pneumonia can enter the animal’s body. Among them: Batrachotaenia karpathica, Cosmocerca longicauda, Halipegus ovocaudatus, Opisthioglyphe ranae, Pleurogenes claviger, Chabaudgolvania terdentatum, Hedruris androphora.
At home, crested newts are prone to many diseases. The most common diseases are associated with the digestive system. Problems are associated with improper feeding or ingestion of soil.
Aquarium individuals often suffer from fungal diseases that affect the skin. Mucorosis is considered the most common problem. The most common disease is sepsis. This happens as a result of the entry of microbes into the body. Improper nutrition can lead to the accumulation of fluid in the tissues – dropsy.
Population and species status
High sensitivity to water quality is the main factor in the decline in the crested newt population. The population of this species is decreasing faster than other amphibians. For T. cristatus, the greatest danger is industrial pollution, drainage of water bodies.
In many areas where about twenty years ago amphibians were considered a common species, now they are not found. The crested newt is considered one of the most rapidly endangered species in European fauna. Despite the wide range, the species is not at all numerous, especially in the north and east of its habitual habitats.
Individuals are scattered in a mosaic pattern over the range and are several times rarer than the common newt. Compared with it, the comb is considered a background species. Although the crested newt is 5 times less numerous than the common newt, in broad-leaved forests the populations are approximately equal, and in some places even exceed the common species.
Due to the massive destruction of habitats since the 1940s, the population in Europe has been greatly reduced. The population density is 1.6-4.5 specimens per hectare of land. In places frequently visited by people, there is a tendency of almost complete disappearance from large settlements.
The increase in the road network, the introduction of predatory fish (in particular, sleeper sleeper), destruction by people, urbanization of territories and trapping for terrariums is negative affect the number of creatures. The burrowing activity of the wild boar is also a negative factor.
Crested Newt Conservation
The species is listed in the International Red Book, the Red Book of Latvia, Lithuania, Tatarstan. Protected by the Berne Convention (Annex II). Although it is not listed in the Red Book of Russia, since it is generally considered not threatened, the species is included in the Red Books of 25 regions of Russia. Among them are Orenburg, Moscow, Ulyanovsk, the Republic of Bashkortostan and others.
There are currently no special security measures in place. Animals live in 13 reserves in Russia, in particular, Zhigulevsky and other reserves. Violation of the chemical composition of water can lead to the complete disappearance of amphibians. Therefore, it is recommended to limit agricultural and forestry activities.
To save the species, it is necessary to carry out work to find stable local groups and introduce a protection regime in such zones, focus on the conservation of water bodies, and ban the trade in crested newts. The species is included in the list of rare animals of the Saratov region and recommended for inclusion in the Red Book of this region.
In large settlements, it is recommended to restore aquatic ecosystems, replace decorated artificial banks with natural vegetation for comfortable reproduction of creatures, stop dumping untreated storm water drains into small rivers with oxbow lakes.
The crested newt and its larvae are engaged in the destruction of mosquitoes, which is of great benefit to humans. Amphibians also eat carriers of various diseases. With proper care, you can not only decorate the aquarium with a pair of crested newts, but also successfully propagate them. Babies need constant food, vegetation and artificial shelters.