common frog

Info & advice

Newts: injury or illness

I’ve found an injured newt, what can I do?

Quick answer
It is often difficult to treat amphibians – place it in a sheltered part of the garden or contact a vet for further advice.

You can also join the Garden Wildlife Health project and report your sighting of a dead or diseased amphibian.  Visit the Garden Wildlife Health website.

Further information
If the injury appears slight and the animal is active and able to move freely, then it’s best to just move the amphibian to a sheltered part of the garden, away from the view of predators (such as cats and birds) and extreme weather where it can recover on it’s own; for example amongst dense foliage or dead wood. Make sure it has the option to move to another part of the garden, should it want to.

Injuries such as skin abrasions should heal fairly quickly, so moving the animal to a quiet place, where it can recover and forage easily, will increase its chances of survival. If you think that an animal is seriously injured contact your local vet – though unfortunately they’re often unable to help with treating injured amphibians unless they have a specialism or interest in this field. Most vets treat wild animals for free but ring to check first. Wildlife hospitals are more likely to be able to offer assistance – the RSPCA may be able to help locate your nearest wildlife hospital. Some links are provided below but further internet searches may prove useful.

Please remember that amphibians are small, vulnerable creatures and it is unlikely that a severely damaged animal will be treated successfully.


I’ve found a newt that seems unwell, how can I help it?

Quick answer
Like all living things, newts can suffer from a variety of illnesses and diseases – unfortunately these can be difficult to treat.

Further information
Occasionally you may come across newts that have picked up an injury or illness. We hear about amphibians with ‘milky’ eyes, skin problems and deformed limbs or tails. Unfortunately there’s often nothing that can be done to treat these animals and it’s just a case of keeping them out of harms way whilst they recover (if they can).

If you find a newt that has lumps/growths on the skin please get in touch as our research partners at the Institute of Zoology may be interested in hearing about this.

Generally all you can do for ill/injured newts is to them to somewhere in the garden where they are protected from predators and weather extremes. You can try contacting a vet but it’s unlikely they’ll be able to do anything to help.

Often these incidences are isolated but please get in touch if you have any concerns; ideally include photos of the situation so we can try and determine what’s going on.

If you find dead newts, you can register them via the Garden Wildlife Health project and vets may be interested in them as specimens for post mortem.


I’ve found a swollen newt, what’s wrong?

Quick answer
Swollen individuals could be carrying eggs, have an infection that’s caused them to take on water or have an intestinal blockage.

Further information
In spring or early summer a bloated amphibian could be a female – they become noticeably swollen with eggs at this time. This is natural and they normally return to a smaller size once they have spawned. Female newts can become egg-bound, where eggs get stuck in the reproductive system. If you suspect this has happened, try contacting a vet or wildlife hospital for advice.

Sometimes Froglife receives reports of amphibians that have become noticeably bloated all over the body, rather that only the belly (which is indicative of carrying eggs). This unusual bloating is thought to be related to a hormonal imbalance which pulls water into the animal’s body causing it to swell. Symptoms often appear to subside over time but, again, a vet may be able to help.

A swollen amphibian may also be indicative of a blockage in the gut. Unless a vet is able to help with this (which may not be possible) the outcome, unfortunately, is not good for these animals.

If you have found a bloated amphibian that’s dead this is likely to have occurred after death, especially if it died in the pond, rather than being a symptom of something that killed it.


I’ve found a dead newt, what’s going on?

Quick answer
There are a variety of things that could kill amphibians – from predators to disease – and if usually depends on the time of year.

Further information
Like all living things, newts don’t live forever and it’s quite natural to come across dead individuals every now and again. This could be due to extreme weather in winter, predators in spring, dehydration in the summer or simply old age!

Amphibians can also suffer from a variety of infections and viruses (that may or may not kill them), some of which are of serious concern.

To find out more about the causes of amphibian deaths please see our information on amphibian disease.

If you find dead newts, you can register them via the Garden Wildlife Health project and vets may be interested in them as specimens for post mortem.


Newts are being preyed on, what can be done?

Quick answer
Amphibians form a vital part of the foodchain and in most cases it’s not necessary to interfere; trying to exclude predators can do more harm than good.

Further information
Amphibians form a crucial part of the diet of many wildlife species so you can expect to see a number of predators in your garden. Some amphibian predators, like Grass Snakes, have disappeared from many parts of the UK where they once thrived; having these animals in your garden is a privilege.

Adding a variety of places in your garden for amphibians to hide when disturbed is the best long-term advice. Log piles, rockeries, dense low-growing foliage and water bodies can all provide places where amphibians can flee from natural predators.

Cats, however, can pose a persistent problem. While some cats may ignore amphibians, others will catch, play with and sometimes kill them. It can be difficult to exclude cats from a garden so, again, increasing the amount of amphibian-friendly habitat will help newts escape – especially habitats that cats will have trouble getting their paws in to. ‘Cat scarers’ are another alternative method to consider. We would advise that pond-owners avoid using pond-netting. Sometimes the animals you’re trying to attract (like Grass Snakes or hedgehogs) can become caught and die.

great crested newt
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