Resources >> Species Information >> Great Crested Newt
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Great Crested Newt PDF Print

The great crested newt is the largest British newt, with adults reaching a length of 16 - 17 cm.


Adult and juvenile newts have a dark brown or black warty appearance and during the breeding season adult males have a high jagged crest along the back and tail. Both sexes have a bright orange belly with black blotches.

More information on how to identify Newts is available from the Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group.


Spots on the bright belly can be used to identify individual newts, even juveniles as illustrated here.


Great Crested newts have a widespread distribution in lowland England, but are rarer in the south-west. They are less common in Wales and Scotland. The great crested newt has declined more than any of the other widespread amphibians in recent years.

In Kent, the great crested newt breeds in a wide range of freshwater habitats. However, the species is considered to be in decline and is listed in the Kent Red Data Book.

Life History

Great crested newts breed in ponds during the spring. Males court females with an elaborate dance. After mating, female newts lay eggs on the leaves of aquatic plants. The eggs hatch after three weeks and the emerging tadpoles (larvae) take approximately two months to develop into juveniles, at which point they leave the water. Newts become relatively inactive during the winter, during which time they often seek shelter below ground or under terrestrial refuges such as logs and stones. However, it is not unusual to find newts still active during the winter months.

The main threats to great crested newts are the loss of breeding ponds and fragmentation of suitable terrestrial habitat.

Legal Protection

The great crested newt receives full protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Schedule 2 of the Conservation (Natural Habitats etc.) Regulations, 1994 (Regulation 38). This prohibits deliberate killing, injuring and sale; deliberate or reckless damage to, destruction of, or obstruction of access to, any structure or place used for shelter or protection, and  deliberate disturbance of animals in such a way as to be likely to affect (a) the ability of any significant groups of animals of that species to survive, breed, or rear or nurture their young, or (b) the local distribution of abundance of that species. Application forms for such licences can be obtained from the Natural England website.

The great crested newt is listed as a priority species within the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Useful Publications

English Nature have produced a detailed guide for developers. A pdf copy can be downloaded here.

A leaflet produced by Kent Wildlife Trust provides further information for developers working in Kent. A pdf copy can be downloaded here.

Kent County Council and the Kent & Medway Biological Recording Centre on behalf of the Kent BAP have published an information leaflet that summarises the status of great crested newt in Kent. A pdf copy can be downloaded here.

Great crested Newt Pond Pond density is very high in the Weald of Kent. Pond suitability can be assessed using habitat suitability indices.

Great crested newt egg. Eggs are laid individually on the leaves of aquatic plants.


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