Striped newt

It possesses a magical gift called “neoteny,” allowing some of its kind to retain their juvenile charm even in adulthood

Glenn Bartolotti

This species, native to the longleaf pine ecosystems of the southeastern United States, is visually striking, with two vibrant red dorsal stripes that run the length of its body. These red stripes contrast sharply against the dark background color of the newt’s skin, making it one of this region’s more conspicuous herpetofauna inhabitants. The newt’s belly is a vivid yellow, peppered with black spots, and it sometimes sports red spots that add to its striking appearance.

Inhabiting the dry upland habitats such as sandhills, scrubs, and flatwoods, the striped newt strongly connects to the seasonal wetlands and temporary ponds that dot this landscape. These ponds, which fill with water during rainy seasons, are crucial for breeding this species. Interestingly, striped newts can lead a dual life – they are as comfortable on land as in water, a trait not all amphibians possess. This versatility is particularly beneficial, given that their preferred habitats are subject to drastic fluctuations in moisture and temperature throughout the year.

Its unique reproductive strategy sets the striped newt apart from many of its amphibian cousins. Instead of depositing their eggs directly into water like most amphibians, Striped Newts lay their eggs on land, in damp places where the humidity is high enough to prevent the eggs from drying out but where the risk of aquatic predators is absent. Upon hatching, the larvae, known as efts, emerge with remarkable adaptations for a terrestrial lifestyle. These efts are known for their bright orange coloration, which warns predators of their unpalatability due to toxins in their skin.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
United States
2021
Florida, Georgia

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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