The common newt is a small caudate with a maximum body length of 11 cm (less in southern Europe). The upperparts are with smooth skin and yellow-brown to black-grey colouration. The males have coarse, roundish, dark spots on it - especially conspicuous during the mating season. Both sexes have alternating light and dark stripes on the sides of the head (hence the name "striped newt"); there are three longitudinal furrows on the upperpart (compare cover photo). The underpart is orange in the middle, becoming lighter towards the sides and also with dark markings - in the males these are large dots, in the females fine spots.
In their aquatic phase, the males develop a high, wavy to serrated (in southern subspecies also smooth-edged), flexible skin crest, which - in contrast to the great crested newt - runs from the back of the head to the end of the tail without an indentation at the root of the tail. Their fin seam on the underpart of the laterally flattened tail shows a bluish tinge. The hind feet show blackish swimming fringes at this stage. The cloaca of males is much more prominent and darker in colour than that of females. The females look much more inconspicuous overall and usually have a slightly lighter, rather brownish basic colouration. For the non-expert, they are difficult to distinguish from those of the palmate newt. Among other things, however, the throat is usually also spotted, in contrast to that of the palmate newt. In addition, yellow pads can be seen under the soles of the feet of female newts, which are usually absent in common newts. In the terrestrial habitat, the skin becomes dry, fine-grained and water-repellent; the colouration is now very muted.
The common newt prefers semi-open to open landscapes, but does not completely avoid densely forested mountainous regions. In such areas, however, the Italian crested newt and, especially in the west, the palmate newt are found much more frequently. In the lower altitudes of Central Europe, the common newt is by far the most common caudate and, along with the common toad and the grass frog, one of the still almost ubiquitous amphibian species. During "toad migration" campaigns along roads to protect migrating amphibians, it is not uncommon for hundreds, in extreme cases even several thousand common newts to be registered.
Land habitats include grassland areas with hedges, forest edges, semi-natural gardens and parks, abandoned gravel pits and the banks of water bodies. The common newt is considered a very adaptable amphibian and a synanthropic species. It feeds on insects, worms and other small animals at night; during the day and in dry periods it hides under stones, leaves or roots. In spring and early summer, it feeds mainly on small crustaceans, but also on frogspawn, tadpoles and even eggs and larvae of its own species. Smaller, at least temporarily sunny pools, ponds and ditches with rich underwater weeds are preferred as spawning waters. Thanks to their tail, the newts move as swiftly as fish under water. They regularly swim to the surface to gasp for air. In case of danger, they flee in a flash to the bottom of the water or between water plants. By July, most common newts have left the water to live on land. Some, however, remain more or less permanently aquatic (compare: Northern crested newt). In October or November (Central Europe), the animals retreat to frost-proof terrestrial shelters; some also hibernate in the water.
The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teichmolch). On wikipedia the text is available under a „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ licence. Status: 29 June 2021