Great Crested Newts

Protecting Great Crested Newts: tips and tricks

BSU has launched the world’s first National Newt Day, spearheaded by the University’s conservation academics and celebrated by the entire BSU community.   

National Newt Day has been launched to offer information on the Great Crested Newt and draw attention to the species and the risks of disturbing their habitat.  

Due to their striking decline over the last century, the Great Crested Newt is Britain’s most strictly protected amphibian and is illegal to handle under UK and European legislation. 

Often found in gardens, sometimes hundreds of metres from water, these amphibians spend most of their life on land but rely on suitable water bodies for breeding. Destroying ponds, introducing fish, chemical pollution and significant loss of their natural habitat has threatened the entire species. Bath Spa University is proud to be home to a thriving population of Great Crested Newts and hopes to aid in reversing these factors and enhancing populations across the UK.  

Springtime sees a surge of activity as the Great Crested Newt leaves its woodland shelter in time for the breeding season. Garden ponds are prime real estate for newts and effectively managing their habitat is the best way to encourage our amphibian friends. 

How do I encourage newts into my garden?  

  • Amphibians need ponds to breed, so adding a pond to your garden is a surefire way to encourage them.   
  • Avoid adding fish to your pond as they feed on spawn  
  • Habitat corridors allow newts to move freely, and vegetation and flower borders will act as cover from predators.  
  • Installing steps can help newts exit the pond. 
  • Newts are partial to a wilder environment, so ensure your pond isn’t too manicured.  

Newts use small broad leaves to lay their eggs on, wrapping each up in an individual leaf. They will be drawn by the presence of plants such as water mint Mentha aquatica and water forget-me-not Myosotis scorpioides.  

Even gardens without a pond, or the resource to build one, can interest amphibians. Getting creative with the type of water body your garden can accommodate may encourage the Great Crested Newt. Consider installing a small water feature or a bog.  

How do I spot a Great Crested Newt?  

Great Crested Newts have been compared to miniature dinosaurs and are distinguishable from other species by their bright orange belly. They have distinctive warty skin and in the spring the males boast a remarkable jagged crest across their back and a flash of white along their tail. Individual to each Great Crested Newt is their marking of black spots, each as unique as a fingerprint.   

What do I do if I find a Great Crested Newt?  

Nothing! It is illegal to handle the Great Crested Newt without a license and moving newts or their eggs away from your pond may transfer disease or invasive plants. The Great Crested Newt is best left alone. Suitably managing their habitat is the best way to give them a fighting chance.  

Have you got a passion for wildlife conservation? Explore our wildlife conservation course or find out more about National Newt Day on our webpage. 

Disclaimer: The Bath Spa blog is a platform for individual voices and views from the University's community. Any views or opinions represented in individual posts are personal, belonging solely to the author of that post, and do not represent the views of other Bath Spa staff, or Bath Spa University as an institution.



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