Image credit: Wikipedia
Great crested newts and smooths newts are known to be present in the ponds at North Cray. The large ponds on Foots Cray Meadows provide the ideal habitat for both species of newt, with clean unpolluted water and abundant weeds.
Both species are nocturnal and spend their day hiding under large stones or compost heaps. They hibernate from mid-October and emerge again in early spring.
Newts can regenerate limbs, eyes and major parts of their bodies, like spinal cords and hearts. When newts come out of water (after breeding) they can travel up to 1km to look for food.
Great crested newt (left) and the smooth newt (right). Credit: Wikipedia.
The Great Crested newt species have been around for about 40 million years. It is the largest and the least common of UK’s three native newts, they can grow up to 17cm in length, compared to around 10cm for smooth newts.
They are dark brown or black in colour with a distinct warty skin, the underside is orange, with irregular black blotches. Adult males develop a distinctive jagged crest along their backs.
The bumps and warts on their skin are poison glands, which although they are not particularly deadly, it is strong enough to produce a strong acrid smell and leave a foul taste in a potential predator’s mouth.
They feed on aquatic invertebrates, such as leeches, freshwater shrimps, tadpoles even smaller newts. They themselves are eaten by foxes, rats, hedgehogs and birds.
The smooth newt is varying shades of grey or brown, with a yellow/orange underbelly with black spots/blotches. They have a smaller crest to display to females. They also feed on aquatic invertebrates and are eaten by fish, grass snakes and ducks.