Characteristics and Behavior:
Eastern Newts are a group of small, colorful salamanders with three distinct life stages: aquatic larvae, terrestrial juvenile stage (called an eft), and aquatic adult. The aquatic larval stage has gills, while the eft stage is characterized by bright orange or red skin and a distinctive dorsal stripe. Adult Eastern Newts have smooth, greenish-brown skin and can develop a more aquatic appearance with webbed hind feet.
- Eastern Newts are found in the eastern part of North America, covering a range from southern Canada through the eastern United States.
- They prefer a variety of aquatic habitats, including ponds, slow-moving streams, and wetlands. Terrestrial eft stages are often encountered in wooded areas, while adults return to aquatic environments.
- Eastern Newts are found in various habitats across Florida, including wetlands, swamps, and wooded areas.
- Eastern Newts have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, with about 2 to 7 years spent as an aquatic adult.
- Reproduction begins with the aquatic larval stage, which eventually metamorphoses into the terrestrial eft stage before reaching adulthood.
- Their life cycle is unique, with the eft stage being toxic to predators, making it unappealing to potential threats.
- Toxic Defense: The bright coloration of the eft stage serves as a warning to predators that they are toxic. They produce toxins that can cause irritation or discomfort if ingested, deterring potential threats.
- Unusual Mating Rituals: During the breeding season, male Eastern Newts perform a courtship dance, waving their tails to attract females. After mating, females lay individual eggs on aquatic plants.
- Dual Lives: Eastern Newts are one of the few salamanders to undergo metamorphosis twice, transitioning from the aquatic larval stage to the terrestrial eft stage and then back to the aquatic adult stage.