Spanish ribbed newt

When attacked, the Spanish ribbed newt pushes out its ribs until they pierce through its body!

Pengo

This amphibian can be found across a wide geographical range, including Portugal, southern and central Spain, and Morocco. This species is remarkable for its variable skin pigmentation, which can range from olive green to shades of brown and even yellow, providing excellent camouflage against the muddy pond floors and the leafy debris of its habitat. The underside of the Spanish ribbed newt can be white, grey, or pale yellow, which can be quite stark in contrast to the darker tones of the back and sides.

One of the most bizarre defense mechanisms in the animal kingdom belongs to this species. When threatened, the newt can angle its ribs against the skin, causing them to protrude in a defensive posture. These ribs are not merely for show but are associated with glands that can secrete a poisonous substance, making the newt less palatable to potential predators. The ribs are covered by a series of warts that run up both sides of the body, adding to the newt’s formidable appearance and making it one of the more easily identified amphibians within its habitat.

The Spanish ribbed newt prefers various wetland habitats that include scrublands, open forests, and cultivated lands—essentially regions that offer a consistent presence of water bodies. It is an amphibian that is primarily aquatic and is often found in still or slow-moving waters such as ponds, lakes, ditches, and streams that are temporary or permanent. These water bodies, often rich in vegetation, provide shelter and breeding grounds for the newts. Adult Spanish ribbed newts are typically nocturnal, hiding behind rocks or burrowing into the mud during the day. During the dry season, they are known to exhibit a degree of terrestrial behavior, seeking refuge on land when their marshy homes dry up.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Gibraltar
2008
Introduced
Morocco
2008
Portugal
2008
Spain
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