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Species Description

Eastern Newt

Notophthalmus viridescens


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Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Caudata
Family: Salamandridae

Description

Adults vary in color depending on geographic location. The back may be yellowish to olive brown to olive green, and the belly can vary from lighter green to yellow. Red spots outlined in black appear on the back, and there are scattered black spots on the belly. The land dwelling eft stage is bright to dull red to orange red or brown with black spots; its bright color may be a warning to potential predators that it is toxic. Usually 64 - 114 mm (2.5 - 4.5 in) in length.

Life Cycle

The Eastern Newt has a three-part life cycle, which is unusual for salamanders. It breeds from late fall through early spring in woodland pools, swamps, and marshes with few or no fish. After an elaborate courtship, the male deposits spermatophores while walking in front of the female. The spermatophores are picked up by the female's cloacal lips and the eggs are fertilized internally. Between 200 and 375 eggs are laid singly, usually on aquatic plants. Depending on water temperature, the gilled aquatic larvae hatch within two to five weeks. The larvae metamorphose into terrestrial efts by late summer or early fall. The eft stage may last as little as one season or up to three years. In certain areas, notably the Coastal Plain, the eft stage is skipped entirely and larvae transform directly into adults. Sometimes the larvae never metamorphose, even reproducing in the larval form. This condition is called neoteny. The diet of an adult Eastern Newt consists of aquatic insects, worms, amphibian eggs, small mollusks, and crayfish. The eft stage feeds on small insects and snails found under leaf litter, rocks, or logs. The aquatic larval stage feeds on small aquatic invertebrates. These newts are active both night and day. They remain active throughout the year and have been observed swimming under ice in winter. The larvae and adults are found in shallow, quiet water, in ditches, streams, ponds, and lakes. The eft stage requires hardwood, pine, or mixed hardwood-pine forest near the breeding site. This species prefers abundant aquatic vegetation, but will breed in ponds that do not have aquatic plants.

Range

Eastern Newt Region Map The Eastern Newt is found throughout the state of Georgia and the forested eastern United States.

Conservation Status

The Eastern Newt is common throughout Georgia and is under no threat at present.

Similar Species

The Striped Newt has red stripes running down the sides of the back, and red spots that are not outlined in black. Adult and eft stage Eastern Newts do not have the smooth, slimy skins of most salamanders, and they lack costal grooves. The Red Salamander and Mud Salamander can be confused with the Eastern Newt's eft stage, but these other salamanders have smooth skin and costal grooves.