This month we’re going to talk about the Great Crested Newt. This fascinating species is strictly protected in Britain due to its decline over the last century. Great Crested Newts are the UK’s largest newt and can reach up to 15cm in length. Their skin is a black or dark brown with a granular appearance, while they also have bright orange bellies with an irregular pattern of black blotches. The male has a jagged crest on their back with a white strip along the centre of their tail, however, the female does not have a crest and instead has a yellow stripe along the bottom of her tail.
During the winter months Great Crested Newts go through a phase of low activity. They will spend their time overwintering and sheltering in compost heaps or under refugia such as rock or dead wood piles, or perhaps just in deep loose soil. Some Great Crested Newts overwinter in forests and woodlands where the undergrowth, leaf litter and tree canopy will help them against exposure.
The Great Crested Newts do not hibernate in winter months but instead enter a period of dormancy. They can sometimes emerge from their hiding spots to forage in milder temperatures. Great Crested Newts tend to forage in areas where there is an abundance of invertebrates such as areas of woodland or grassland.