Southern banded newt

A rather strange-looking animal that kind of, looks like a real-world water dragon

Aviad Bar

Native to a swath of the Middle East and parts of the Caucasus region, with its presence recorded in countries such as Israel, Armenia, Georgia, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the Russian Federation, Syria, and Turkey, these newts are known for their adaptability to various freshwater habitats, which include not only forests and grasslands but also rivers, lakes, marshes, canals, and agricultural ditches, reflecting their flexible nature in the wild.

This species displays pronounced sexual dimorphism, especially during the breeding season, which is typical of many newt species. Males undergo a dramatic transformation, developing spectacular dorsal and tail crests that undulate gracefully in the water, resembling the sails of a ship. These crests are more than just for show; they play a crucial role in the newt’s mating displays, where males use them to attract females. Additionally, during the breeding season, the males exhibit a striking change in coloration. Their flanks brighten, showing more vibrant hues, which enhance their visibility to potential mates and rivals alike.

The Southern banded newt’s mating rituals are elaborate and competitive. Males are territorial and engage in aggressive behaviors to defend their chosen breeding areas. They are known to bite and chase away other males, vying for the attention of females and the best breeding spots. This aggression underscores the importance of the breeding season for the propagation of their species.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Iraq
2008
Presence Uncertain
Israel
2008
Jordan
2008
Lebanon
2008
Syria
2008
Turkey
2008

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No

Female

By Aviad Bar