Rare newts discovered by G&S

The Great Crested Newt | Rainer Theuer

The Great Crested Newt | Rainer Theuer - Credit: Archant

It is the first time that protected great crested newts have been spotted alongside the canal

Great crested newts used to be widespread across the country but loss of habitats due to land development and agricultural expansion has seen a severe decline in their numbers in the last 50 years.

The species – also known as the ‘warty newt’ – is now protected by law and a priority species of the UK biodiversity Action Plan.

The discovery on the Gloucestershire waterway has been described as good news for the newt population as a whole by a Canal & River Trust ecologist.

Laura Mullholland said: “The canal fringes and largely undisturbed grassland alongside hedges and woodlands provide the ideal mix of habitats for them to stay out of the sun in the summer and hunker down in winter.”

The newts live on land most of the time and need still pools of ponds for breeding, meaning habitats need to be a mixture of damp and sheltered.

“This is something that the UK newt population often struggles to find, so we’re really excited that they’ve found the right balance on the canal,” said Mullholland.

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The great crested newt, Britain’s largest newt species, is darkly coloured, with black spots on their sides, a yellow or orange belly and warty skin.

She added: “They’re really like mini swimming dinosaurs, especially the males who display a jagged crest during breeding season, kind of like a tiny stegosaurus.”

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