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Common Name: Eastern (Red-Spotted) Newt
Family: Newt (Salamandridae)
Observer(s): Noah Charney
Notes: Newts have a fascinating life cycle. I've never before seen one in Nashville. Who knew that they breed right in our neighborhood? This newt started his life as an egg laid singly on aquatic vegetation. He spent his first summer as a little yellow-greenish larva with a flattened tail that he used to swim about in still water. Then he metamorphosed into a bright orange juvenile with a rounded tail and wandered on land for 3-7 years. Juvenile newts are known as "efts." Efts are commonly mistaken for lizards because they wander about in the forest during the day with bumpy dry skin. (On the right is an image of an eft from Massachusetts; folks should be on the lookout for efts in our neighborhood!) The newt then went through a second metamorphosis; it turned back into a slimy greenish adult with a flattened tail for swimming. When he became an adult, he migrated back to water where he will probably live out the rest of his life breeding year after year. Sometimes newts decide to leave the water again and wander on land for a spell.
The aquatic newt pictured above is a male. You can tell by looking at his swollen cloaka (full of sperm) and over-sized back legs (which he uses to grip the female during courtship and mating).