Animals / Dogs

The Smooth Newt


Order: caudata Family: salamandridae Subfamily: pleurodelinae Genus: lissotriton Species: lissotriton vulgaris 


These newts can be found throughout Europe, except for the northern part of Scandinavia, the Iberian Peninsula and the south of the Italian Peninsula. In the east their habitat stretches through a part of Asia to the Altai. They prefer lowlands: damp meadows and fields, parks, gardens, woodland etc.

Outward appearance

Males and females are about the same size (about 8-10 cm head-to-tail length). During the mating season males develop a tall wavy crest along the spine and tail. At all other times it can be very difficult to distinguish males from females. The skin is smooth. The coloration can vary from brown to olive, the belly is yellow or orange with dark spots; males are normally darker than females. Males have one line running along the spine, females have two parallel lines. 


Common newts are mainly terrestrial except for the mating season. They prefer still or slow water (ponds, lakes etc). During the daytime they hide in shelters: under driftwood, rocks and so on. At daytime you can see a smooth newt only during the rain or when they are migrating towards their breeding area.  

Maintenance care

Newts need a horizontal aquatic tank at least 40x25x20 cm that has to be equipped with a heating cord, a heating pad or a reflector. The temperature at the basking spot at daytime should be around 28 degrees. The ambient temperature should be about 18-22 degrees at daytime and around 16-20 degrees at night. The water temperature has to be between 16 and 20 degrees. You should put a raft on the water surface: a piece of bark or some wood. Smooth newts can be kept in a group.


In captivity smooth newts eat crickets, cockroaches, mealworms, earthworms and crustaceans. In the water they can eat snails, bloodworms and sludge worms. 


Common health problems in newts include gas bubble disease (the animal bloats and has bubbles under the skin), metabolic bone diseases (limbs get distorted), skin problems (bacterial and fungal infections). All these issues have to be treated with the help of a professional vet. Average life span in the wild is only about 7-8 years; in captivity smooth newts can live up to 20 years.


The mating season starts in late spring. Although males display in the water (sometimes during the day), mating itself takes place on land. On the pond bottom, the male will trail a female and touch her flanks before depositing a packet of sperm on the ground, which the female collects by placing her cloaca over it. When eggs are laid, females use their hind legs to wrap each individually-deposited egg in a curled leaf. A female can lay up to 200-300 eggs which she lays on water plants and then folds the leaves to protect eggs. The eggs hatch in 2-3 weeks’ time.
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