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Great Crested Newts (Triturus Cristatus) in garden ponds

This is a discussion on Great Crested Newts (Triturus Cristatus) in garden ponds within the Eurasian Newts (Triturus, former Triturus, Calotriton & Euproctus).. forums, part of the Species, Genus & Family Discussions category; Hi all Just a quick note to let you all know that great crested newts are already back in our ...

Eurasian Newts (Triturus, former Triturus, Calotriton & Euproctus).. Triturus and its relatives (Ichthyosaura/Mesotriton, Lissotriton, and Ommatotriton) are a diverse and widespread group of newts. While mainly European, several species can be found in the Near and Middle East. Euproctus, the brook newts, are confined to Corsica and Sardinia.


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Old 13th January 2008   #1 (permalink)
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Default Great Crested Newts (Triturus Cristatus) in garden ponds

Hi all

Just a quick note to let you all know that great crested newts are already back in our garden pond and starting to come into breeding condition. Our pond is approx 3m by 4m by 0.5 m deep and is also a breeding site for smooth and palmate newts and over 100 common frogs.

Netting of the pond a couple of years ago (under Natural England licence) resulted in the capture of 31 adult great crested newts 198 smooth and 21 palmate newts.

I would be very interested to hear from other members of this site who have newts living wild in their garden and breeding in garden ponds or water features.

As other contributors have already mentioned the newts appear to be returning earlier every year. in the past we never saw newts in the pond much before March.
I have attached pics of a male and female GCN and a 10 week old GCN larvae caught in my pond in 2006. There are more pics on my website www.newtsinyourpond.com

I Look forward to hearing from you all

Cheers
Jim
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Old 13th January 2008   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to the site, James. Nice photos. I like your website - very succinct. If I may be so bold to ask, where do the proceeds of your book sales go? I should clarify - is the book funding projects like Froglife (which you link) in any way? It might encourage people to purchase it if there was a contribution sent there or to similar "trusts".
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Old 13th January 2008   #3 (permalink)
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Hi, thanks for your kind comment about my website/photos.
As the book is a self published work and has only been on sale since April 2007 I am still working to sell enough copies to recoup my original costs. Unfortunately I still have approx 1800 copies stacked up in a corner of the living room (much to my wifes delight!).
When/if the book starts to generate a profit the money will go to fund the website and help support the school visits programme I run in the UK.
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Old 13th January 2008   #4 (permalink)
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I see. Thanks for he prompt reply, James. How many pages is the book and for what "level" of enthusiast is it written?
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Old 13th January 2008   #5 (permalink)
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Hi, the book is 92 pages with over 60 colour photos. It is aimed at the general public (all ages) who have a garden/pond or a general interest in wildlife. 17 Cheshire libraries now stock the book and they have described it as a cross over publication (potentially appealling to any one between 7 and 90!)

My aim was to give sufficient infomation to enable the positive identification of UK newt species with practical tips on habitat and attracting/establishing newts in gardens and ponds.

It covers all 3 native UK species with comprehensive details of their terrestrial and breeding requirements, eggs, larvae and sub adults are covered in detail in plain unscientific language.

The hope is to spark interest and lead people to become more interested in amphibians and wildlife conservation in general. Comments from people who have bought the book have (so far) been very complimentary, suggesting that I have managed to achieve my aim which is very satisfiying.

Writing the book, which incidentally took 3 years (with photos), has opened a lot of doors for me and helped me secure my current job as a consultant ecologist.C

Jim
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Old 13th January 2008   #6 (permalink)
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It sounds like an interesting book. Thank you for your donation by the way.
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Old 14th January 2008   #7 (permalink)
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I have just ordered one of the books as this years project was to make my pond at home more amphibian friendly. Then hopefully the tale end of this year or early next year we are hoping to start one off at school ...can't really begin yet as they are adding some more classrooms this year so I have time to research . Looking forward to seeing the book.
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Old 15th January 2008   #8 (permalink)
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I am very jealous of you folks who live in areas where newts can inhabit your backyard. The only native caudate around here is A. mavortium. That being said, I am interested in your book all the same, James; will it be easily obtainable to people in the US?
Heather
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Old 15th January 2008   #9 (permalink)
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Hi James,

Nice to hear that the newts are already back.

We have 2 ponds in our garden...1 at the bottom which is very small and quiet and the other which is large and very close to the house.

We moved into the house last year and the garden, which is quite big, had been left untouched for at least 4-5 years due to the elderly owners not being able to do much with it.

The great thing is of course, that many species of wildlife took advantage of this and the garden in the summer is full of common toads and the ponds full of common frogs (Some of which have the most unusual patterns!?) and the large pond is a joy to sit and watch many smooth newts.

We dont have any Palmate or Crested unfortunately.

We are gradually 'dressing' the garden so that it is useable but are very conscious of spoiling this haven for animals. So wherever possible we are leaving piles of logs and stones and areas of untouched leaf ltter etc and if we do have to modify anything we try and replace it (And any found amphibians etc) as was elsewhere.

What is the situation with regards to Crested for trying to expand their range (Geographically) ?

Keep up the good work and good luck with the projects,

Cheers,

Mike.
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Old 15th January 2008   #10 (permalink)
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Hi Mike,

Good to hear you have frogs, toads and smooth newts in your garden and pond.

GCN for reasons not yet fully understood have not proved to be as succesfull at colonising garden ponds as smooth and palmate newts, which I find suprising because they can do very well, even in relativly small garden ponds with limited terrestrial habitat (my own pond/garden is a perfect example and I personally know of several others).

On a general note GCN are still widespread across the whole of the UK (excepting Ireland) and locally common in some areas for example Cheshire and Norh wales. In general if a pond supports smooth or pamate newts and is a least 2m by 4m by 0.5 m deep it has the potential to support a small breedng population of GCN given that sufficient, suitable shelter/foraging habitat is available to them in their terrestrial phase.

There is always the posssiblity that GCN may eventually find their way naturally into your pond, so it would be usefull to carefully open a few leaf folds during the breeding season (March to June) to check if they contain their distinctive creamy white 5mm diameter eggs (smooth and palmate eggs are grey/brown and about half the size of GCN eggs).

Good luck with you ongoing garden enhancement works

Cheers

Jim
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Old 18th January 2008   #11 (permalink)
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Default Newts in your pond by James

James I have just received your book in the post after sending my cheque last week. Have not read it all, but will have finished it by tomorrow, well done.

I will post your leaflet in one or two local reptile/amphib shops in East Anglia.

I have large colonies of common frogs, common toads and smooth newts, also I found one female crested newt early last year in February but no other or eggs, so I am hoping for more this year.

My pond is large about 10m by 5m and 1.2m at its deepest. The pond is 4 years old and i have not introduced fish but some plants must have had some fish eggs as I now have a about 20 fiish, golden tench I think and will try and remove this year.

I plan a survey this weekend to see if any newts have returned.
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Old 18th January 2008   #12 (permalink)
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Hi James,

I found your website the other day quite by accident, and enjoyed browsing through it. I plan to buy a copy of your book when I get paid-it looks most interesting.

Good luck with your newts this year!
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Old 18th January 2008   #13 (permalink)
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I too have now received the book, and to me its perfect!. I found it easy to read, the pictures are lovely and the imfo has already potentially stopped me making mistakes. I am now more aware of what I need to make my pond newt friendly. Last weekend I fished out the dead leaves ( mainly from my laural tree) , thinned out some of the pond weed and spotted a healthy frog ( lurking under the slabs) and found 2 inch goldfish. I have now made note of various plants now to place around the pond area and basically can't wait to get started!!. I have never seen any sign of newt in my garden..but supect that the frog must have travelled from various ponds in the area ( none in my stretch of road) .I had aquired 3 from my parents 2 years ago. The stinky cats caught at least 3 last year ( never knew that frogs screamed , I had thought they had grabbed the neighbours dwarf rabbit!!) but I had a various number of small to adult frogs lurking in the garden.
This evening I toodled out to see if there where any more frogs in the pond and as my torch went across the water I saw a newt dart under the stone slabs!!! . Needless to say the photo's where studied and I am pretty sure I have a smooth newt.I shall be out later tonight to see if I can spot it!! I am ridiculously excited!! Many many thanks James.
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Old 18th January 2008   #14 (permalink)
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your very lucky!!
last year we had about ----- cleaned the pond out...
and found...
about 20 /30 smooth newts...
and currently have some babies i rescued from my other pond -
eating me out of house and home!
dont think they are back just yet though
amazng as teh pond - is awful!
not pretty pretty over grown and is under 1m by 1m!
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Old 18th January 2008   #15 (permalink)
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Hi , Neilshaw and Bellabelloo

I am glad to hear your books arrived safely. Many thanks for you kind comments Bell they are very much appreciated they make all the effort involved in writing and publishing the book seem worthwhile. I am delighted to hear you have already been out with a torch and seen a smooth or palmate? newt in your pond.

Nileshaw the fact that you have so many fish in your pond is likley to deter great crested newts from breeding and if they did fish predation would adversly impact on larval survival . It has been proved that GCN can 'taste' fish in the water and tend to avoid ponds with fish. Smooth and palmate newts will co-exist with fish but in usually in much reduced numbers. To encourage GCN to breed in your pond this year I would suggest that you remove the fish ASAP and certainly no later than early Feb. You sighting of a female GCN last year suggests the presence of a breeding poulation within 500 meters making it very likley that they will colonise your pond when conditions are suitable (fish gone!)

Again thanks to you both for your support.

Regards

James
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Old 21st January 2008   #16 (permalink)
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Hi
I was out in the garden last night (mild/raining) and saw 5 male and 6 female GCN and approx 15 smooth/palmate in the pond. No sign of eggs or leaf folds yet.

2 large female GCN also seen on the lawn, one attempting to pull a worm out of its burrow! Weather much colder tonight may take a quick look in the pond before I go to bed, the wife thinks I must be mad god only knows what the neighbours think!

Regards
Jim
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Old 25th January 2008   #17 (permalink)
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It has been proved that GCN can 'taste' fish in the water
Do you have a reference for this, or any further information? I've heard anecdotal suggestions that GCN are able to actively avoid fish ponds, but I've never seen any solid proof.

Though far from ideal, it's certainly possible for GCN to coexist with fish under some circumstances, as there are quite a few sites around the UK where this occurs.
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Old 25th January 2008   #18 (permalink)
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Hi Caleb

I believe the experiment involed a submerged pipe leading from a tank containing GCN to two tanks one containing fish one without. the pipe incorporated a fork and it was demonstated that GCN entering the pipe would usually opt to follow the fork leading to the fish free tank, indicating that they could 'taste/smell' fish in the water.

Trevor Bee Bee's 30 year garden pond study seems to support these findings. Unfortunatly I cannot remember were I read the report/study (Poss The British Herpetological Society).

I agree that GCN can and do co-exist in certain circumstances with fish but only in much reduced numbers. In my own experience the introduction of fish into GCN breeding pond/s can and frequently does lead to a localised extinction of the species.

My view is that there is still a lot we dont understand about GCN, which makes them all the more interesting as a species.

Regards
James
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Old 28th January 2008   #19 (permalink)
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I believe the experiment involed a submerged pipe leading from a tank containing GCN to two tanks one containing fish one without. the pipe incorporated a fork and it was demonstated that GCN entering the pipe would usually opt to follow the fork leading to the fish free tank, indicating that they could 'taste/smell' fish in the water.
Thanks. That actually sounds vaguely familiar, I must try and find where it was...

Quote:
Trevor Bee Bee's 30 year garden pond study seems to support these findings. Unfortunatly I cannot remember were I read the report/study (Poss The British Herpetological Society).
Yes, that was in BHS Bulletin 99.
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Old 28th January 2008   #20 (permalink)
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are they breeding during this period of the year? :O
think the cristatus will have to wait a bit longer here in sweden
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