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It’s springtime and it’s newt season!  Many of us are familiar with the rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa), often seen slogging across the roads at a glacial pace. Adult newts reach sexual maturity at 4-5 years. This time of year, the adults are headed to ponds and lakes for the annual mixer. Males undergo remarkable metamorphosis when they enter the water. Their trademark rough skin becomes smooth, and their tail transforms into a long, graceful paddle. They are clearly in their element, undulating casually in pursuit of sex and caviar (newts will dine on amphibian eggs, even their own).


Following a gentle dance of underwater nuzzling, males release a sperm globule into the water. If the newt lady is feeling it, she will collect the globule to fertilize her eggs. Females hide individual eggs in aquatic vegetation, scattered across a wide area. As fresh eggs are a wetland delicacy to many – including newts themselves – this distribution strategy may improve overall survival.


Rough-skinned newts are loaded with a powerful neurotoxin that could be fatal if ingested but cannot be absorbed through human skin. A newt may be helped across the road, just don’t lick your fingers afterwards. Incidentally, garter snakes can generally handle the newts’ toxin and are their only known predator (aside from tires). Provided they get across the road safely, their lifespan may exceed 12 years.


In other news, LINC’s AGM is May 11th at the JFC. The dress code is gumboots, as proceedings include an intertidal field trip. Details to follow in the LINC newsletter.

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