Just great for newts

Canal Boat - - News -

A RARE AMPHIBIAN has been spot­ted along­side the Glouces­ter & Sharp­ness Canal – the first sight­ing of the pro­tected species in the canal’s nearly 200-year his­tory.

Once wide­spread across the coun­try, great crested newts have suf­fered a sharp de­cline in the last 50 years. Also known as ‘warty newts’, they need safe, shel­tered places to live on the land, and still pools or ponds to breed in. Habi­tat loss and frag­men­ta­tion be­cause of land de­vel­op­ment and agri­cul­tural ex­pan­sion has been a key cause of their de­cline.

“We’re de­lighted that great crested newts have made a home on the Glouces­ter & Sharp­ness Canal,” said Laura Mull­hol­land, ecol­o­gist at the Canal & River Trust. “Most peo­ple don’t re­alise that these newts live on land most of the time, and only go into wa­ter to breed. Their ‘warty’ rep­u­ta­tion of­ten doesn’t en­dear them to peo­ple, but they’re really like mini-swim­ming di­nosaurs, es­pe­cially the males who dis­play a jagged crest dur­ing the breed­ing sea­son, kind of like a tiny stegosaurus.

“The canal fringes and largely undis­turbed grass­land along­side hedges and wood­lands, as well as the habi­tat piles we make when we carry out our veg­e­ta­tion work, pro­vide the ideal mix of habi­tats for them to stay out of the sun in the sum­mer and hun­ker down in win­ter – some­where where it’s damp and shel­tered. This is some­thing that the UK newt pop­u­la­tion of­ten strug­gles to find, so we’re really ex­cited that they’ve found the right bal­ance on the canal.”

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