Eastern Newt · Virgina Kendall Area

Red Spotted Newt a.k.a. Eastern Newt

by Elizabeth Ryan

Early Spring,
tiny larvae, only a half inch long,
hatch from eggs laid in lakes, ponds, and marshes.

Feathery gills for breathing sprout from the top of their heads.
Four delicate little legs with teeny tiny feet
and a broad flat tail for swimming.

They dine on Zooplankton,
aquatic larvae and insects,
preparing for their Metamorphosis in the fall,

leaving their aquatic homes to become terrestrial.
Gills are replaced by lungs; flat broad tail becomes round and narrow.
Their skin changes from a black-spotted yellow-brown to a bright orange.

Bright orange bodies with red spots encircled by black,
and smaller black spots, dot their bodies.
At this stage of his life, the immature newt is a Red Eft.

The bright orange body of the Red Eft,
a warning to predators,
Beware I’m Toxic if you eat me.

He lives under leaf litter, in deciduous and coniferous forests,
eating insects and snails, growing to around three inches long.
You might spot him walking across the forest floor as you hike in the park.

They are terrestrial about three to four years,
but they could live on land up to seven.
During the winter, they hibernate under rocks or logs.

At maturation, Red Efts transform back into aquatic creatures.
They retain their lungs, and breathe oxygen the rest of their lives,
but their tails return to broad and flat for swimming.

Upper bodies become olive green still with red spots encircled in black,
Underbellies are a yellow-green with black spots.
They sometimes return to the place where they hatched.

The newt’s diet is insects, leeches, crustaceans,
small amphibians and fish.
The little critters grow up to five inches long.

Late winter, early spring, the adult newts mate.
The female lays her eggs on aquatic plants,
and the cycle repeats.

An interesting fact of the red Spotted Newt,
a large population,
indicates a healthy eco-system.



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