Celia Haddon - Cat Expert

Understanding animals through their behaviour


Smooth newt


Newts become mature somewhere between 3-7 years and usually do not mate until 6-7 years. Newly adult newts usually migrate to their pond in the autumn, hibernating there ready for their first breeding season in the spring. Sexually experienced newts migrate to the pond for breeding during spring (Bell 1977).

They start mating over a period of about six weeks. The males have a courtship dance of whipping, waving and fanning their tails, culminating in a tail touch that starts the transfer of sperm. The need to breathe means they sometimes have to interrupt this sexual sequence (Halliday 1976). Each egg is laid separately and wrapped in a leaf but only a few survive to hatching. Eggs are eaten by caddis larvae, tadpoles, large water snails and by birds like ducks and moorhens that eat water plants (with eggs attached).   Eggs hatch into larvae, not tadpoles, with external gills then slowly grow into proper newts over the next 90 days (Bell & Lawton 1975)  The time of newt spawning may be influenced by the gravitational and/or geomagnetic changes at full moon (Grant et al., 2009).

When they leave the pond after mating, the older experienced newts usually head back to their preferred land territory. Younger inexperienced newts may follow the older ones or, if there is a big population, head out on their own. Either way, they show more diversity in where they leave the pond (Malgrem 2002). Newts may be able to find a suitable breeding F., pond by following the noise made by toads (Pupin et al., 2006). More research is needed!


Bell, G. & Lawton, J. H. (1975),’The Ecology of the Eggs and Larvae of the Smooth Newt (Triturus vulgaris (Linn.)‘, The Journal of Animal Ecology, 44, 393-423.

Bell, G., (1977), The Life of the Smooth Newt (Triturus vulgaris) after Metamorphosis,’ Ecological Monographs, 47, 279-299.

Grant, R.A., Chadwick, E. A. & Halliday, T., (2009)The lunar cycle: a cue for amphibian reproductive phenology?’ Animal Behaviour, 78, 349–357.

Halliday, T. R., (1976), ‘ The libidinous newt. An analysis of variations in the sexual behaviour of the male smooth newt, Tritusus vulgaris, Animal Behaviour, 24, 398-414.

Malgrem, J. C., (2002), ‘How does a newt find its way from a pond? Migration patterns after breeding and metmorphosis in great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) and smooth news ( T. vulgaris), Herpetological Journal, 12, 29-35.

Pupin, F., Sacchi, R., Gentilli, A., Galliotti, P. &  Fasolo, M., (2006), ‘Discrimination of toad calls by smooth newts: support for the heterospecific attraction hypothesis,’ Animal Behaviour, 74, 1683-1690

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