British Wildlife – Amphibians Underwater – Newts, Toads and Frogs

Heres the script from the video “For a fairly small pond this place was absolutely full of newts. From above I counted more than 50 in just the margins on one side. These are common or smooth newts, they grow to a length of about 11 centimetres and are the most common species of newt in the UK. This one is a male. You can tell this by the bumpy crest along its back and tail and the orange and blue colouring beneath its tail. Smooth newts are sometimes mistaken for great crested newts but these are quite a bit bigger, darker in colour and also much rarer.

Alongside the newts and frogs, there are also quite a few common toads in the pond. This fearless newt takes a closer look at them. It’s a tense moment but in reality, beneath the surface the toads do not pose a threat to it, although on land this is not always the case.

These toads have come to the pond to breed but that isn’t always straight forward with so many other amphibians around. Here a pair of toads in amplexus have been interjected by an amorous male common frog. Unfortunately for them he is preventing the male toad from fertilising the two strings of spawn that are being laid and these eggs will not develop. Sometimes many males will grab hold of a single female and this can often result in them drowning.

One of the reasons that amphibians lay so many eggs is because a lot of them will not survive to adulthood and that is definitely the case for the frogs that have spawned in this pond. You can see here how the newts have gathered around the spawn and if you watch closely, you can see some of them trying to eat the black eggs within.

For the newts this is a great source of nutrition which is just what they need right now. Just like most of the frogs and all of the toads these newts would have spent the winter on land and have came back to the pond to breed. When they are on land the male newts do not have their crest and this slowly gets bigger as they spend more time in the water. You can see how the male on the left has a much larger crest than the others, he was probably one of the first back to the water and currently has a better chance of impressing the females.

When the males find a female, who lacks the crest and colourful markings, they follow her. The male on the left turns his body side on and uses his large tail to waft pheromones in her direction. This is to try to encourage her to mate with him, but with so many hot males in pursuit, she can afford to be picky.

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