Male Great Crested Newt (by James Grundy)

Although frogs and newts are familiar from ponds and gardens, globally amphibians are one of the most threatened creatures on earth.

In order to help conserve one of the UK’s rarest amphibians the Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group, with funding from the Devon Biodiversity Partnership and help from the Devon Biodiversity Records Centre, has recently set up a Great Crested Newt Project. As part of this they are looking for help in locating records of the rare and protected Great Crested Newt, which is currently only known to exist in a few ponds in the county.  The project group have recently received a possible record of the rare Great Crested Newt in Marley, Lympstone.

Great Crested Newts are much larger (up to 17cm long) than the small newts (around 10cm long) more commonly found in our ponds. The body is dark brown to black in colour with a warty appearance. Male Great Crested Newts can be identified by the jagged crest running along their back. Newts have a similar life cycle to frogs and toads, hibernating through the winter months and returning to breed in ponds in the spring.

Nicky Green, Chair of the Devon Reptile and Amphibian Group (DRAG) said:

‘ The Great Crested Newt is thought to be virtually extinct in Devon. However, there have been new     recorded sightings across the county, which suggest that there are more of them out there than previously thought. In order to help conserve this rare and fascinating species we need as many records of sightings as possible’.

If you think you may have seen Great Crested Newts in your pond please contact Julia.clark_DRAG@hotmail.co.uk or 01626 834422 with the location, post code and date of the sighting. A Great Crested Newt identification and conservation pack is available for respondents.