Is a Newt a Reptile?

by Russ on August 17, 2013

The smooth newt is the most commonly seen newt in Britain. If you head down to your garden pond or local lake this weekend, you may spot a newt or two relaxing in the shallows. This brilliant little creatures spends most of it’s time in water and you can see them very clearly when they swim up to the surface to grab a mouthful of air. But what group do newts belong to?

They look extremely similar to lizards – four legs and a long tail – but they are not actually reptiles at all. Instead, they belong to a much older group of creatures called Amphibians. Amphibians are a fascinating group of animals that include newts, frogs, toads and their relatives. There are a number of differences between reptiles and amphibians, but here are some of the most notable:

  1. Reptiles have scales whereas amphibians do not
  2. Amphibians can live both in water and on land, whereas reptiles are largely restricted to one or the other
  3. Amphibians lay water bound eggs with no hard shell
  4. Young Amphibians look nothing like the adult and gradually change shape over time, growing completely new limbs and losing others

This is the female smooth newt. Newts are more active at night when they go in search of food.These ancient animals are the ancestors of all back boned creatures and were among the very first to colonise the land. So when you next find a newt at the bottom of your net, take a moment to appreciate how important this little animal is. They represent one of the most crucial steps in the evolution of life on land and have hardly changed in over 300 million years!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ray Hodgson April 18, 2015 at 6:48 pm

My granddaughter took photographs of newts sunbathing by our ponds at Wraycroft Cottages earlier today. I will email a photo separately
/Users/florencehodgson/Pictures/iPhoto Library.photolibrary/Previews/2015/04/18/20150418-151114/UMzgo8K3Q661u9tV3tAmww/IMG_1389.jpg

as this link may not work. Wonder what sort of newt


Russ May 6, 2015 at 3:18 pm

Hi Ray,

The newt is most probably a Smooth Newt although this picture is a tricky one. Roughly how large was the animal?



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