Great crested newts (Triturus cristatus) are widely distributed throughout Britain, though absent from Ireland.
In the last century great crested newts have disappeared from many sites across Europe, mainly as a result of pond loss and intensive agriculture.
Great crested newts are the largest of the UK's three native species. In comparison to the smooth newt and the palmate newt, the great crested newt is significantly larger, growing up to 15cm in length and looking much heavier.
Great crested newts are dark brown or black in colour with a distinct ‘warty’ skin. The underside is bright orange with irregular black blotches. In the spring, males develop an impressive jagged crest along their back and a white 'flash' along the tail. Females, particularly in the breeding season when they are swollen with eggs, are bulky in appearance but lack the crest of the male. Great crested newt larvae are mottled with black spots and have a tiny filament at the end of the tail.
Breeding takes place from around March to June. Great crested newts undergo an elaborate courtship routine with males displaying before female newts. After mating, each female lays around 200 eggs, individually laid and wrapped inside the leaves of pond plants for protection.
Due to enormous declines in range and abundance in the last century, the great crested newt is strictly protected by British and European law which makes it an offence to: kill, injure, capture or disturb them; damage or destroy their habitat; and to possess, sell or trade. This law refers to all great crested newt life stages, including eggs.