By mid-late February, the first palmate newts will start emerging from their overwintering sites and making their way to breeding ponds, where the breeding season will continue throughout spring until the end of May.
Males typically arrive at ponds first where they perform a courtship display to attract females, involving some vigorous tail shaking. Males then drop a spermatophore which the female picks up via her cloaca, using it to fertilise her eggs. She lays her eggs one at a time, carefully rolling each one in an individual leaf. Although this seems like a slow process, a female palmate newt usually lays between 100-300 eggs per season.
If you’re looking for palmate newts they can be tricky to identify as they are easily confused with smooth newts, but the key difference is that smooth newts have spotty throats whereas palmate newts do not. Males in the breeding season are easier to tell apart as male smooth newts develop a crest along the back, and male palmate newts develop large webbed hind feet and a small filament at the tip of the tail.