Taricha – Pacific newts

Highly poisonous newts commonly known as rough skin newts

These newts, distributed along the west coast of North America, derive their name from the rough and grainy lumps that adorn the surface of their skin, which are specialized glands that secrete highly potent neurotoxins.

One of the defining features of Taricha newts is their neurotoxin-producing skin glands. These glands release powerful toxins, primarily tetrodotoxin, which is most concentrated in their skin. These neurotoxins serve as a potent defense mechanism, deterring potential predators. While the toxins are generally safe unless ingested, they can cause irritation when in contact with human skin or eyes. Consequently, it is essential to exercise caution and avoid handling these newts to prevent potential harm.

Breeding season is a significant event in the life cycle of Taricha newts. During this period, they migrate in substantial numbers to various aquatic environments, including ponds, streams, and rivers. Female newts lay their eggs on the leaves and stems of aquatic plants, where they undergo development for approximately three to four weeks before hatching into larvae. This reproductive strategy highlights the importance of suitable aquatic habitats for the survival of their offspring.

Taricha newts are predators, and their diet consists of insects, worms, and small fish. They are also known to eat the eggs of other amphibians. Taricha newts are territorial and will defend their territory from other newts. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including ponds, lakes, streams, and rivers. They are also found in some moist forests.