The adult central newt is a small aquatic salamander without gills or costal grooves (vertical grooves along the sides). The back is olive brown and the belly bright orange yellow. Some very small red spots ringed with black may be along the back on both sides of the spine. Numerous small black spots usually cover the body. A dark line runs from the nostril through the eye to the forelimbs.
For a couple of years in the middle (“eft”) stage of their life cycle, central newts live on land. Efts are dull brown to reddish brown, with a rounded tail and rough, almost bumpy skin. The youngest, larval individuals are aquatic and have gills. Upon hatching, they are about ¼ inch long.
Habitat and Conservation
ewts have few predators because they produce toxic skin secretions that make them taste bad. Interestingly, one study showed the skin of efts to be up to 10 times more toxic than that of the aquatic adults.
Scientists have suggested several explanations for the unusual life cycle of newts. The terrestrial eft stage is apparently an adaptive boon when natal ponds are small, likely to dry up, crowded with newt larvae or other animals competing for food, and/or likely to hold predators, and when nearby terrestrial habitats offer plenty of food compared to the natal pond. Also, moving onto land encourages dispersal of individuals, which then can discover new ponds and unrelated newts to mate with.