Alpine Newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris)
The Alpine Newt (Ichthyosaura alpestris) is native to central Europe. It has become established in a few localities in Britain, often as a result of deliberate introductions. The adults grow up to 11cm and are usually brown, green or grey, sometimes with a marbled pattern. The belly is orange or red and unspotted. There are dark spots along the sides and tail. Male Alpine Newts have a low, smooth, yellowish crest, with black spots or bars during the breeding season.
|Identification||Adults up to 11 cm in length. Dark in colour, often with a marbled pattern. Blue tinge is often visible. Belly is bright orange/red and unspotted. Dark spots along sides and tail. During the breeding season males develop a yellowish crest with black spots or bars.|
|Distribution||Non-native species in UK. Native to northern, central and eastern Europe. Widespread but not common in the UK.|
|Ecology||On land the Alpine newt favours wooded areas. Prefer ponds with vegetated areas that lack fish. Active during the night, but they may be seen during the day especially in the breeding season or following rain. Hibernate on land. Adults feed on invertebrates. Larvae feed on small, aquatic invertebrates such as water fleas. Emerge from hibernation in early spring and the breeding season begins.
Females lay around 200 eggs per year.
Larvae develop into terrestrial juveniles (efts) by autumn.
Adults spend the summer foraging for food on land.
Adults and juveniles hibernate on land from October to February.
The newts reach sexual maturity at 2 or 3 years.
|Predators and other threats||Adults are hunted by birds, Hedgehogs, snakes and rats. Larvae are eaten by dragonfly larvae, adult newts and fish. Alpine Newts are known carriers of the chytrid fungus Bactrachocytrium dendrobatidis. This disease can seriously affect native amphibian species. Find out more here.|
N.B. The release of exotic species into the wild is a criminal offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.