If you would like to read my Dorset nature notes about any of these featured species or sites please click on the post title

About Me

My photo

I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

27 March, 2014

Palmate newt: putting its foot in it

There are three species of British newt, the great crested, the smooth and the palmate. The great crested has a great crest, the smooth newt is smooth, so what about the palmate newt (Triturus helveticus); why palmate? Time to turn to my dictionary again for a specific definition of palmate: "of the feet; having three toes connected by webbing". That says it all really, now we know why it is the palmate newt; if you look at the hind feet of the male
they are, indeed, webbed.
The palmate newt occurs across much of western Europe (although not in Ireland) and in some areas it is endangered and in others it is relatively common. in Britain they seem to be rather local but where they occur can be quite common. Like other amphibians they live on land for much of the year, hibernate in winter and it is only in the breeding season they are found in water (apart from hot spells, of course, when they may take to water to cool down as they are cold blooded creatures). 
In March and April, possibly May, you can see them in ponds and lakes and they are frequently seen in ditches along paths on heaths and in acidic water. The Dorset heaths are a good place to find them given the conditions that apply there. They can easily be mistaken for lizards on land being similar in appearance. The palmate newt is much smaller than the common lizard but it will depend on how good a view you get of it, once warmed up they can move pretty quickly!
Related Post:

Slow-worm? It is neither slow or a worm