Friday, March 16, 2018

what's newt with you

If you would like to become an expert on one group of living things in our state, pick newts. Although there are over 50 known species in the world, only one species is found in Tennessee: the Eastern red-spotted newt. A trained herpetologist would point out that there are actually two subspecies that look very much identical, but for the sake of brevity, let's just focus on the principle species of the red-spotted complex.

Newts are salamanders that have an extra life stage. As juveniles, they turn bright red orange, leave their watery home and roam through the forest, hiding under logs and leaves for up to seven years. Because of their color, they are called "red efts." After their terrestrial travels, they find a pond, morph into yellowish olive green adults and begin to reproduce.

The newts in our local ponds can live up to 15 years: egg to larva to juvenile to adult. And that's a pretty long life for an amphibian.

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