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Home » Amphibians & Reptiles » Eastern Red Spotted Newt

Eastern Red Spotted Newt

Scientific name: Notophthalmus viridescens

This fascinating little creature is native to North America. It has many unique incarnations and makes physical adaptations for each of them. The red spotted newt begins life as an egg in a pond, or other still water, and is hatched as a larvae (tadpole). It breathes through its gills and feeds on other aquatic life. One example of how nature creates a balance is that they feast on the mosquito larvae, keeping their population in check.

Only 2% of all newts make it past the larval stage to become red efts (see photo). They develop up to 21 spots and become a bright red. This is a signal to birds and others not to eat them, as many red food sources are poisonous or bad tasting! This helps them to maintain their numbers as they are now terrestrial as they have developed lungs to breathe air. After several years, the red eft returns to its pond and embarks on its third stage of life as an aquatic animal. Not only does it change its color to green to help it camouflage better with its new surroundings, but it also develops a rudder on its tail to aid it in swimming.

Red eft
click to flip

Diet

Larvae eat aquatic insects, eggs and crustaceans (invertebrates). Red efts eat insects, snails and worms. When the red eft returns to the pond to live out its life as an adult, it will again eat crustaceans and other amphibians, as well as insects and fish eggs.

Habitat

At different points in its development, it is found in different habitats. Ponds, lakes, streams and marshes are where it begins and ends its life-cycle. We are mostly likely to see it in its terrestrial form as a red eft in moist forests and woodlands.

Ecosystem Connections

The newt is an important part of the food chain. The female newt lays between 200-400 eggs at a time and these eggs and their larvae are food for many other aquatic animals. And the newt also eats many insects, other amphibians and fish eggs.

Fun Facts

The red spotted newt can live up to 15 years!

More on Reptiles and Amphibians in Lewisboro