Newts are very active during their
breeding season. At times the entire forest floor is alive with
newts crawling in every direction. Large and small, they seem always
to be on the move. Therefore I was surprised to find this specimen,
seemingly motionless, at the foot of a burned out tree stump. I
realized immediately that it was stalking "something".
So intent on its quarry, which I could not see, that I had time
to set up my tripod and take a series of
photos. When the photos were developed, I visited the USGS Amphibians
website to see if I could find information to identify the kind
of newt it was. Unfortunately, they had nothing on this particular
specie posted. So I contacted them, telling them about the photo.
In return, they asked for a copy along with the particulars of where
it had been taken. A short time later, they added a new section to
their site on the California Newt featuring the photos I'd taken.
Since then, more Cal Newt photos have been added, but the original
shots, taken one rainy morning along Hicks Road, are still posted.
Click here to see a rare Blotched CA Newt.
If you find a Cal Newt in the forest, have the good sense to leave it alone. They are sensitive, fragile creatures and deserve to live undisturbed. They are also poisonous.
The Cal Newt section on the USGS Amphibians & Reptiles website strongly advises against touching these creatures. Their bright yellow underbelly markings indicate to other animals that they are toxic. If you do pick one up, for example to remove it from the road, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. And never hold them tightly as you might injure them.
Newts in great numbers cross Hicks Road during their annual migration. Sadly, I estimate that a quarter of these are killed each season by cars and bicycles. In most cases, their bodies disappear overnight, probably eaten by scavengers.