The palmate newt (Lissortriton helveticus) is one of 3 native species of newts, the other 2 being the smooth/common newt and the great crested newt. Palmate newts are the smallest of the 3 reaching a max size of around 9.5 cm. Breeding males develop a distinct filament on the end of their tail, strongly webbed hind feet, and a low, smooth crest on their back. They spend most of their time in the water during the breeding season and throughout the summer, but come back to land in late autumn to hibernate through the winter. Palmate newts while in water, feed on aquatic insects, worms, midge larvae and tadpoles. On land they mostly feed on earth worms and small insects. At Wildlife Pond and Aquarium we have captive bred palmate newts over many generations to ensure they are disease free and legal to sell (sale of wild caught newts is illegal). Each group will include a mix of adult male and female newts (usually half males and half females) and will be an excellent breeding colony for your pond.
Breeding group of palmate newts (Lissotriton helveticus)
Palmate newts are easy to care for. A tank, viviarium or large plastic container of around 2 foot or larger with a sustrate of soil and moss with some plants, wood or rocks and a water tub is ideal for them. If in the breeding season the newts can be kept in an aquarium with a small bit of land for them to climb on out of the water.
Once the newts lose their breeding colours they will leave the water and become fully terrestrial. They can be fed on earth worms, maggots and small meal wroms or if in water can be fed bloodworm, daphnia, mosquito larvae and other small aquatic insects. If being released into an outdoor pond make sure the habitat is suitable for them as this will encourage them to stay and breed in the pond.
Well planted ponds with plenty of cover and hiding places are essential for the newts to avoid predation from cats and birds. Adult newts will make a home in ponds with large fish but will have little chance of producing offspring as the fish will eat them and newts are also reluctant to breed in ponds with large fish. Wildlife ponds are far better suited for them or ponds with small fish like minnow or stickleback.
Keeping the newts outdoors is the best way to preserve there natural breeding cycle. The newts courtship display involves the male fanning a breeding pheromone with his tail to attract the female. After breeding, the female lays between 150 to 450 eggs which she carefully wraps in the leaves of aquatic plants. When the young newts hatch they usually spend between 1 to 4 months in the water before becoming terrestrial. More rarely they will overwinter in the pond and emerge early the following year.
Palmate newts live to an age of around 12 years in the wild and probably even longer in captivity.