Notophthalmus viridescens

Eastern Newt

Eastern Newt

(aka Red-Spotted Newt)

Notophthalmus viridescens 

(Subspecies: Red-spotted N.v. viridescens)

Notophthalmus viridescens
Notophthalmus viridescens

Red Eft Eastern Newt Sighting

The Eastern Newt is the first New England species added to MySpeciesList.com by our 2-year old daughter.  The sighting occurred on a late afternoon hike in Pawtuckaway State Park, New Hampshire after a midday rain shower.  Our 2-year old had to be carried up a rocky trail a mile into our hike, and while she was being carried in my husband’s arms, she excitedly shouted, “Look, an orange lizard!”.

None of us saw it.

My husband, who has a sixth sense for spotting any “herp”, had to put her down and have her point to where this “orange lizard” was among the beach leaves and thick vegetation covering the forest floor.  Of course, we already knew what we were looking for – not a reptile, but the unmistakable dayglow-orange terrestrial juvenile form of the (very common) Eastern Newt (aka the Red Eft form).

Further up the trail, we spotted two more (Red Eft) Eastern Newts.  The conditions were ideal for such a sighting – the forest floor was damp after a midday downpour.  However, the conditions for rock climbing (the purpose of our trip) were far from ideal.  We did manage to top-rope at the Upper Cliff area, and enjoyed wet rock on the Great Chimney (climbing route).  We also spotted countless numbers of Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucife) jumping away from our feet along Pawtuckaway’s amazing Boulder Trail (a true gem!).

Eastern newts have 3 distinct life stages.  The “Red Eft” stage is the most conspicuous, with its bright orange coloration and 10-12 well defined reddish spots.   The bright color serves to warn potential predators, and easily attracts the hiker’s eye.  They hatch in water (i.e., lakes, small ponds, backwaters, swamps, ditches, etc.) and have gills during their larval stage.  They venture away from their hatching grounds .

Larval Stage

The young  Eastern Newt larval stage emerge from eggs attached to submerged vegetation.  They are 8mm at birth, and after a period lasting around 50 days (late summer) they lose their gills and turn into the Red Eft.

Red Eft:

The Red Eft is the juvenile life stage.  The most notable differences are the absent gills, and the bright orange coloration with red spots outlined in black.  Some sources report that they turn more reddish brown as they mature.  Many field guides report that this Red Eft Stage lasts for 1-3 years, but current research studies reference this terrestrial woodland period lasting 3-7 years.

Adult Eastern Newt:

The adult (6.5-14cm)returns to live in water where it will breed and spend the rest of its days.  Adults of the Red Spotted subspecies are aquatic lunged adults, but other subspecies can skip the Eft Stage and become a gilled aquatic adult without metamorphosis (paedomorphsis). The  dorsal side (back)vis yellowish brown to olive-green to dark brown, and the ventral  side (underside) is yellow.  Adults have black spots on dorsal and ventral side.  The adult tail is shaped like a paddle with a prominent keel . Adults do not return to Eft Stage.

Visit our Eastern Newt Species Page to Learn More about the Eastern Newt’s Life History and  Current Research.

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