How to help the newts in your pond to mate & lay eggs

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The development life cycle of Newts in your pond throughout the year:

Follow the stages of the newts in your pond through our pictures. Understand how newts use your pond and its plants in order to return to mate in Spring, lay eggs and grow on through the year until it is time to leave in Autumn.

Behaviour of Newts in your pond in Springtime:

Smooth Newts:

  • Smooth Newts (or Common Newt) return to your pond as mating adults when 3 years old and are brown & about 3" long.
  • These newts above can be identified as Smooth newts not Palmate newts.
  • Palmate newts have webbed back feet at this time of year.
  • Newts become active in Spring when the night temperatures rise.
  • Then they start to return from land to water for a breeding season in a pond.
  • All newts look for still, neutral to slightly alkaline water for mating.
  • Ideally a pond without fish.
  • Clear water space to perform their mating routine which generally occurs at dawn or dusk.

Males:

  • Are distinguished by bright orange markings on both tail and underbelly when they are ready for mating.
  • Also prominent black spots on his belly and back.
  • Males try to attract a female with this bright tummy and by waving his brightly edged tail.
  • She should swim after him.
  • He waves his tail more to waft his glandular secretions (pheromones) towards her to encourage her to get closer.
  • When she touches his tail with her nose he releases his spermatophore.
  • She will swim over this and it will stick to her underbelly.

Females:

  • Look duller & paler brown in colour and are also about 7-9cm/3" long.
  • She is plump on the hips in Spring as she has a bellyful of eggs waiting to be fertilized.
  • She can store the sperm of more than one male in her body for a few days.
  • Then she fertilizes her eggs just before laying.

Great Crested Newts:

  • A Great crested newt is black in colour and larger than Smooth or Palmate newts - about 5-6" long. (Image showing crest - Courtesy of Jim Grundy)
  • The male has a silver stripe the length of his tail when he is of mating age and a very pronounced wavy crest when swimming in the water.
  • It is against the law to handle, disturb or disrupt the pond or habitat area associated with Great Crested Newts.
  • These newts are under threat.
  • Great Crested Newts are Fully Protected in law under The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 (Regs) & Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000.
  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and/or Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) can be created for protection where Great Crested Newts are found.
  • This means legal restrictions on managing a pond and its plants and the land around these pond sites.
  • The laws are intended to save the specific habitat these newts require.

Watch our video  'Mating Newts' in your pond and learn how to plant your pond to encourage newts to visit you.

Best rafting plants for the Newts in your pond to lay eggs:

Any species of female newt will lay her eggs between March and June (approx) in the leaves of rafting plants on the shallow shelf ( <p>Suitable for shelf depth 13-15cm(5-6”) or waterlogged mud </p> ).

These are the best pond plants to encourage any newts species to breed in your pond:

Photos below show a sequence where a female newt lays her eggs & folds them in a leaf for safety.

(Photos below taken by Waterside Nursery 14 April 2016 & 28 April 2017).

  • The female newt finds a suitable leaf and lays an egg.
  • She folds the leaf over each egg with her back feet.
  • She lays & wraps each egg individually in a folded leaf and secures it by sealing the fold with a secretion for safety from predators.

Photos show the folded leaves of Myosotis scorpioides (Myosotis palustris) used by a female newt and a closeup of the egg inside the folded leaf.

  • One female will lay several eggs a day over many weeks of a season and can lay between 150 - 300 eggs in a breeding season.
  • Eggs will take between 10-20 days to hatch dependent on temperature.
  • Only 1% of eggs laid will reach adulthood. They can be eaten by other amphibians - frogs or toads or by dragonfly larvae.

Newts in Summer:

  • Newt larvae or tadpoles develop from the eggs and swim in the pond.
  • Larva hide in the oxygenating weed using their gills to breathe underwater and feeding on aquatic insects.
  • They have no legs at this stage and as each batch of eggs develops you can see a range of sizes of newt larvae within one pond. Image below shows they range from 1cm to 3cm.
  • In June when they have grown and developed legs they begin to leave the water as efts.
  • They hide and look for food in the surrounding undergrowth.
  • You need to supply an area of plants next to the pond for this foraging and for their protection from predators.
  • Blackbirds are quick to pick on the young newts as they emerge from the water if they have nowhere to hide.

Newts in Winter:

  • Smooth Newts have a dull brown skin as camouflage to overwinter in log piles, compost heaps or under sheds.
  • Newts find frost free and safe places from predators like cats or birds.
  • Make sure you make plenty of safe areas of Winter protection for them near your pond.
  • Build a Hibernaculum or Bug House for any amphibians to overwinter in.
  • They do not hibernate but stay dormant.
  • In a spell of warmer weather - above  5C at night they may emerge and look for food - earthworms, slugs or insects.
  • Newts are nocturnal and will begin to travel back to their ponds for breeding as it warms at night but find shelter again if it turns cold.

See below - best pond plants for the newts in your pond to lay eggs on:

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