CRITTER SPOTLIGHT: Red-spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)
Good Morning Watershed Explorers,
Happy Easter to those of you that celebrate, have a wonderful, beautiful Sunday.
Today's critter spotlight is the red-spotted newt. Red-spotted newts are super cool critters. Newts are a specific group of salamanders. There are only about 100 species of newts found in the world.
A really interesting fact about the red-spotted newt is that they have a special life-cycle. I have included a picture below. Some larva will become efts. An eft is a terrestrial version of the newt. It will live on land for a number of years prior to returning to the water to transform into an adult. The picture above is of an adult red-spotted newt. As an eft, the newt is bright orange with distinct red spots on its back, but the adults are more of a brown or green with muted spots on its back and a light yellow belly. Adult red-spotted newts are aquatic.
Red-spotted newt larvae feed on a variety of aquatic macro-invertebrates. Efts eat a variety of terrestrial macro-invertebrates including worms and flies, and adult red-spotted newts feed on aquatic macro-invertebrates like the larvae, but will also add frog eggs and fairy shrimp to their diet.
Red-spotted newts are indicators of healthy watershed areas. They also consume a lot of pesky invertebrates, like mosquitos that cause harm to humans. If you ever find a red-spotted newt it is important to ensure that it stays where it is so that it can continue to play its vital role in the watershed environment. It is also important to note that you should not handle a red-spotted newt unless you have gloves on. Red-spotted newts can excrete poison from its skin. This poison deters predators from eating the newt, but it can also transfer to human skin, so it is important not to handle these creatures without gloves.
As always, if you are going to explore watershed areas, which I hope that you do, please explore safely and respectfully.
I miss you all!