Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus)

The Palmate Newt (Lissotriton helveticus helveticus) is the least-common of Worcestershire’s newts occurring mostly in the counties borders where it shows a preference for soft, slightly acidic, water.

Palmate Newts return to their ponds in February – March and typically stay there till June – July although it’s not unusual to see them in ponds through to September. They are a crepuscular species most active at dawn and dusk.

The dorsal skin is smooth and olive to light brown in colour, sometimes speckled with small dark spots. The ventral surface is yellow to pale orange sometimes with the same dark speckles that mark the flanks, and the throat is a pale pink which unlike the Smooth Newt is not spotted. Reaching a maximum length of 95mm it is the smallest of Worcestershire’s newts.

Outside of breeding season both sexes appear similar except for the darker and more bulbous cloaca of the males however when in breeding condition males develop dark spots on their flanks, and a pale orange flash to the tail,  a narrow eye stripe each side of the head, a pair of dorsal-lateral ridges give the body a squarish appearance, and a very low non-toothed dorsal crest which extends down the tail.  The most distinguishable features however are their heavily webbed hind feet & an extremely fine filament forming the tip of their tail.

Juvenile Palmate Newts can be distinguished from Smooth Newts by the light yellow-orange dorsal stripe that starts at the neck and extends down to the tail.

Eggs of the Palmate 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 creamy buff in colour and indistinguishable from those of the Smooth Newt. They can number 200 -300 from a single female.

Palmate Newt larvae attain slightly smaller sizes and typically metamorphose earlier than those of the Smooth Newt but in the field these traits are impossible to distinguish.