While thrashing a pond full of newts on my work experience with Matt, we found an adult Palmate Newt hiding in the pondweeds nearby some common frogs. It is the smallest newt in Britain, 6 or 7cm smaller than the enormous Great Crested Newt, is common throughout West Europe, although it is actually extremely rare in Belgium and Holland. Palmate Newts are normally brown or pink in colour, with a slightly darker banded stripe across their eyes. They can have dark spots on their backs, but never as many as a Smooth Newt, and not as dark as those of a Great Crested Newt. Males possess webbed back feet, as well as a slight, smooth crest that will develop during mating season, which is around April.
These newts will eat most invertebrates smaller than them, crustaceans like freshwater shrimp, water fleas, frog or toad tadpoles, and occasionally, they will eat each other, making them the only cannibalistic newt in the UK. Palmate Newts only hunt at night, when the air is full of water, or the ground is particularly damp, spending the day and unsuitable nights underwater or beneath moist logs and stones. During the breeding season, the newts will also become active during the day, since they need to attract a mate and hunt.
The newt Matt and I found was a young female, and in relatively good health. We noted that Palmate Newts were present in the pond, and then moved away from where we found her, so that we wouldn’t disturb her and the other newts in the area again.