Tiny Newt Rescued From Busy Shopping Centre

A newt that was found wandering close to a busy shopping centre is recovering at Portsmouth’s Blue Reef Aquarium.

The palmate newt was discovered close to Gunwharf Quays and handed in to a member of staff there.

They contacted aquarists at the Southsea aquarium where it is now being looked after while staff decided on the best location to release it back into the wild.

Blue Reef’s Lindsay Holloway said:

“Palmate newts seem to be able to withstand dryer conditions than their close cousin the smooth newt and are often found a long way from water.

“They often come out to forage during periods of fine weather but it’s unusual for them to be discovered in such a busy area.

“Although tiny, the newt appears to be in good condition. We have placed him in a temporary home in our quarantine area while we check with local wildlife groups to decide where best to release him back into the wild."

Palmate newts spend the winter sheltering under rocks, in compost heaps or buried down in mud. They don’t hibernate as such, and may take advantage of milder patches of weather to come out and forage.  

Adult newts emerge from their overwintering sites in early spring and head to a pond to breed. Males perform an elaborate courtship dance before the eggs are laid.

Individual eggs are laid and wrapped up in the leaves of pond plants, during spring.

Depending on local weather conditions, two to four weeks later the newt tadpoles will hatch out.

The tadpoles have feathery gills around the head, distinguishing them from frog and toad tadpoles. A couple of months after they hatch the larvae start to grow their front legs followed by the back ones.

When they have absorbed their gills, they leave the water as newtlets, or efts, usually in summer.  

At this time of year adult newts spend quite a lot of time in the water and will hunt frog tadpoles. Later in the summer they can be found sheltering under wood, rocks and paving slabs.