Newts are amphibians.
They are a type of salamander.
There are more than 100 species of newts.
They are found in North America, Europe, North Africa and Asia.
Newts are semiaquatic, spending part of the year in the water for reproduction and the rest of the year on land. While most species prefer stagnant water bodies such as ponds, ditches or flooded meadows for reproduction, some species such as the Danube crested newt can also occur in slow-flowing rivers.
During their terrestrial phase, newts live in humid habitats with abundant cover such as logs, rocks, or earth holes.
Most newt species have lifespan about 10 to 20 years.
They are usually less than 20 centimeters (8 inches) in total length, and many are less than 10 centimeters (4 inches).
Newts are characterized by a lizard-like appearance. They have long slender bodies, long tails and two pairs of legs.
All newt species are toxic and have either poisonous skin or glands that secrete poison when threatened.
The rough-skinned newt, Taricha granulosa of the Pacific Northwest produces more than enough tetrodotoxin to kill an adult human, and some Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest used the toxin to poison their enemies.
Newts have the ability to regenerate limbs, eyes, spinal cords, hearts, intestines, and upper and lower jaws. The cells at the site of the injury have the ability to de-differentiate, reproduce rapidly, and differentiate again to create a new limb or organ.
Many species of newts have poison glands in their skin which helps to protect them against predators. They have bright skin colors as a warning to other animals.
Most newt species are nocturnal.
Females lay eggs and leave them. Tadpoles are born from those eggs. Newts have three life stages. First as a tiny aquatic larva, which gradually undergoes metamorphosis. Then they leave the water for a year as a juvenile called an eft. They go back in the water to breed as adults.
All larval newts possess gills to breathe underwater, when they reach adulthood they loose the gills and grow lungs. Adult newts can breathe underwater by extracting oxygen through their skin.
Newts are threatened by habitat loss, fragmentation and pollution. Several species are endangered, and at least one species, the Yunnan lake newt, has gone extinct recently.
The labels of newt and salamander are often used interchangeably, and it’s easy to understand why some people think these two distinct amphibians are the same animal. Essentially, all newts are salamanders, but not all salamanders are newts.
The oldest form of the name newt is considered to be eft, which is still used for newly metamorphosed juveniles. According to some reports, it changed for unknown reasons to ewt, and was used as “an ewt,” but the “n” from the indefinite article (an) shifted to form a newt. Others place the change from “an eft” to “a neft” with the letter f eventually transformed to “w.”