AmphibiaWeb - Triturus cristatus


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Triturus cristatus (Laurenti, 1768)
Great Crested Newt
Subgenus: Triturus
family: Salamandridae
subfamily: Pleurodelinae
genus: Triturus
Triturus cristatus
© 2010 Miss. Katy A. Upton (1 of 60)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
National Status Red Data Books of Lithuania and Latvia. Red Data Books of Karelia, Tataria, Moscow Province, Russia.
Regional Status Bern Convention (Annex 2), 2002.
conservation needs Access Conservation Needs Assessment Report .


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A large newt. Vomerine tooth series symmetrical, slightly curved longitudinally, proximal ends drawn together, distal ends slightly curved to the outside. Body robust Wolterstorff index, forelimb/distance between limbs is 0.45-0.6), head wide; tail length approximately equal to or slightly less than body length with head. Skin rough, with large granules. Dorsal and lateral surfaces black or brownish-black with dark spots; numerous white points on body flanks. Throat black (sometimes yellowish) with white points. Belly yellow to orange with black, usually unfused spots. Male cloaca swollen and dark; tail with lateral longitudinal blue-white band. During the breeding season, the male has a deeply notched middorsal crest which extends from the level of eyes to the base of tail and unnotched crest on the tail. The female lacks these characters, and its cloaca is flattened and reddish; tail with longitudinal reddish or orange band from below.

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, Republic of, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom

Berkeley mapper logo

View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
amphibiandisease logo View Bd and Bsal data (214 records).
The species inhabits Europe (except southern Europe) and the western part of West Siberia. The northern margin of the range extends from northern France, Great Britain, southern Scandinavia to the north of Russia (Karelia - Vologda Province - north of Kostroma Province - surroundings of Kirov City - Perm Province: Solikamsk Town, 58oN, 56o13'E). The southern margin runs from central France to southwestern Romania, then from central Moldavia through southern Ukraine south-eastwards then northwards into central European Russia and the southern Urals to the south of Kurgan Province in West Siberia. Then the margin turns north-westwards through Shadrinsk District of Kurgan Province (ca. 56o06'N, 63o35'E).

The Great Crested Newt is distributed in the forest and forest steppe zones. Isolated populations live in "insular" forests within the European steppes. Triturus cristatus is a typical forest amphibian. It lives in coniferous, mixed and deciduous forests, their glades and edges, in bushlands, meadows, parks and gardens. In southern areas, populations of this newt live in insular forests and in the landscapes of dense vegetation of flooded valleys. Reproduction occurs in stagnant and, rarely, in semi-flowing waters such as ponds, flooded quarries, lakes, irrigation channels and ditches. Such water bodies may be large (several thousand square meters and several meters in depth) or small (5-10 m2 and about 0.5 m in depth). The use of small ponds appears to be more typical in the southern part of its range.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
In southern regions, T. cristatus sometimes occurs in highly eutrophied water bodies. In northern regions, however, it is very sensitive to water quality. There it does not occur in eutrophic, shallow, overgrown ponds. In southern regions, the population density is higher than in northern regions and sometimes exceeds that of the Smooth Newt (Triturus vulgaris). The latter, however, is more tolerant to cold conditions as revealed from its geographic range, which extends more northwards and eastwards. Correspondingly, the abundance of the Great Crested Newt in northern areas is usually several times less than that of the sympatric Smooth Newt. At the north-western and eastern (Urals and Siberia) limits of its distribution, the Great Crested Newt is a rare or very rare species.

Hibernation usually starts in October to November and finishes in February to May (depending on latitude and altitude), when the newts enter the breeding ponds. Adult newts stay in water a long time (sometimes several months) after reproduction. Courtship in this species, as in other members of Triturus cristatus superspecies, is somewhat different from that of the group of "small-bodied" newts (such as T. vulgaris, T. helveticus, etc.), and resembles that in T. vittatus. As in other species of Triturus, the female of the Great Crested Newt tucks each egg or a few eggs into a leaf during oviposition. Clutch consists of 70-600 (usually 150-200) eggs, which are deposited singly or in chains of 2-3 eggs.

Embryogenesis takes 12-20 days. About half of the eggs fail to hatch due to inherent fault at their development. Just after hatching, the larvae live on the bottom, on aquatic plants, or other substrates. Afterwards, they switch to a mainly pelagic life after developing high fin folds, caudal filaments and long toes and fingers. These structures are reduced at metamorphosis and the larvae become benthic. The larval development is longer than many other newts, about 2.5-3 months or more. Metamorphosis occurs in late summer and autumn. Many larvae hibernate and complete their transformation in the next year.

After the exhaustion of embryonic yolk, the larvae primarily eat microcrustaceans: Daphniidae, Chydoridae, Copepoda and small amounts of insects. Afterwards, they prey mainly on plankton as they take up a pelagic life. Large planktonic Daphnia are selected much more than small Diaptomidae. Selectivity toward small crawling invertebrates, e.g. Chydoridae, decreases correspondingly with ontogeny. Terrestrial adults primarily eat earthworms, slugs, insects and their larvae. During the aquatic phase, they consume Mollusca, particularly small Bivalvia, microcrustaceans and insects. Adult newts sometimes display cannibalism and often consume other amphibians, especially at larval and juvenile stages of development. Frequent consumption of vertebrate prey is typical for crested newts, the largest of the aquatic salamanders in Europe. It is even supposed that this predation may cause decline of breeding groups of the Smooth Newt (T. vulgaris) in Moldavia.

Trends and Threats
Triturus cristatus seems to be a declining species, like the majority of other European amphibians. Its decline, however, seems to be more pronounced. This may be related to its high requirements to water quality, especially at larval stages. Introduced fish pose another threat. They are more harmful for T. cristatus than other newt species because its larvae spend a great deal of time in the water column (instead of the bottom), where the frequency of encounters with fish is higher. Nevertheless, T. cristatus remains one of the most widespread amphibian species in Europe, forming many dense populations. Hence, it is not necessary to include it in the IUCN Red List. Rather, conservation at the level of particular countries and regions would be more suitable. Translocation of T. cristatus have been atempted. It is found that in situ translocation is more effective than ex situ translocation since these newt s become disorientated when moved outside of their home ranges and may attempt to return to their original pond.

Relation to Humans
The populations of T. cristatus are declining and becoming extinct under anthropogenic influences more rapidly than populations of other sympatric amphibians because of its sensitivity to water quality. Correspondingly, pollution of water, destruction and drainage of ponds, as well as introduction of fish seem to be the most harmful factors. Deforestation, urbanization, cleaning of ponds, collection for trade, etc., also play a negative role. T. cristatus are protected under European and UK legislation but it frequently cause conflict between development and conservation in England. About 27 percent of great crested newt terrestrial habitat and about half of ponds they inhabit was destroyed because of developments.

The species is the central member of Triturus cristatus superspecies, whose study is in progress.

This species was featured as News of the Week on 17 August 2020:

The pathogenic amphibian fungus known as Bsal (Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans) may be the most potent amphibian disease and poses extreme risk to natural populations, especially in salamanders. First detected in Fire Salamanders (Salamandra salamandra) in extreme southeastern Netherlands and adjacent Belgium and reported in 2013, it has spread to western Germany (with new reports from Bavaria), where it is having devastating effects. An entire issue of the journal Salamandra (2020, vol 56, issue 3, open access and available as PDF) is devoted to Bsal research centered in Germany. Salamander populations have essentially disappeared from the northern Eiffel region and are threatened in the southern Eiffel and Ruhr regions. Bsal has been present in Germany for at least 16 years and has been found in laboratory populations of the Common Frog, Rana temporaria, and field populations of the Great Crested Newt, Triturus cristatus. It is known to infect salamandrid species from southeast Asia, which appear to have been the source of the European outbreaks via pet trade importation. The goal in highlighting this important set of papers as stated by the editors "must go beyond documenting declines towards understanding spatio-temporal disease dynamics and the factors influencing the spread and impact of Bsal in different situations." In light of the seriousness of the Bsal threat in Germany, the authors' common goal is a national Bsal Action Plan, which would be of great importance for the international community of amphibian biologists and for the public (Written by David B. Wake).


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Originally submitted by: Sergius L. Kuzmin (first posted 1999-10-06)
Edited by: Peera Chantasirivisal, Ann T. Chang (2021-01-26)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Triturus cristatus: Great Crested Newt <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 15, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 15 Jul 2024.

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