The Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris vulgaris) is Worcestershire’s most common newt occurring in a wide range of habitats across the entire county including garden ponds.
Smooth Newts return to their ponds in February – March and typically stay there till June – July although it’s not unusual to see males remaining in ponds through to August – September. They are a crepuscular species most active at dawn and dusk.
The dorsal skin is smooth and sandy olive in colour; females being uniform while males carry large black spots. The ventral surface is a pale cream with a streak of yellow-orange and heavily marked with grey-black spotting. In females the yellow-orange streak continues down the underside of the tail. The throat is also pale cream and spotted. Reaching up to 100mm it is slightly larger than the similar looking Palmate Newt.
When in breeding condition males develop a wavy crest that starts at the back of the head and extends down the length of the body and tail. The tail is adorned by red and blue flash markings and slight webbing forms on the hind feet though not to the extent of that seen in the Palmate Newt.
Juvenile Smooth Newts can be distinguished from Palmate Newts by the light yellow-orange dorsal stripe that starts at the neck and fades away before reaching the tail.
Eggs of the Smooth Newt are laid singularly on aquatic vegetation, sometimes folded in to leaves but just as frequently deposited in the tips of oxygenating plants such as Hornwort. Eggs are a buff cream in colour and indistinguishable from those of the Palmate Newt. They can number 200-300 from a single female.
Smooth Newt larvae attain slightly larger sizes and typically metamorphose later than those of the Palmate Newt but in the field these traits are impossible to distinguish.