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Great crested newt

Last updated: 15 March 2011

Britain's largest newt has become our rarest newt in recent decades due to the disappearance of it's seasonal haunts.

In the spring these 'miniature water dragons' make an annual pilgrimage to their aquatic breeding habitat - a ditch, waterway, or more commonly a pond.

Once there, they lay their eggs in the vegetation which they develop into larvae. From August to September young newts emerge and head to dry land for the winter where they'll hibernate in woods, grassland or farmland.

North East Wales is the great crested newt stronghold; three quarters of the approximately 900 known Welsh great crested newt sites occur in Flintshire, North Denbighshire and Wrexham.

Five areas in Wales have been designated as Special Areas of Conservation because they have large newt populations.

The great crested newt is larger than our other native newts, the smooth and palmate and also has darker and rougher skin.

The newts have dark grey-brown backs and flanks, and are covered with darker coloured spots so that they appear almost black in colour.

Their undersides are either yellow or orange-coloured and are covered in large black blotches, which have a unique pattern in each individual. During the breeding season the males have wonderful crests along their backs.

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