Photo by Brian Gratwicke
Scientific Name: Notophthalmus viridescens
Classification: Nongame species
Abundance: Common statewide (dark blue denotes
range of red-spotted newt; light blue denotes range of
Species Profile (PDF)
Eastern newt (red-spotted) (Photo by Jodie Owen)
Eastern newt (eft stage) (Photo by Jeff Hall)
North Carolina is home to seven different families of salamanders, with the majority of species belonging to the family Plethodontidae. However, the Eastern newt, also a salamander, is the only representative found in the state from the family Salamandridae. Newts are an unusual salamander because they can have an immature eft stage, which can be brightly colored and completely terrestrial. Two subspecies of the eastern newt occur in North Carolina, the red-spotted newt and the broken-striped newt. As an adult, the red-spotted newt stretches 4 to 5 inches long. It has smooth skin and a yellow belly. Its back is olive green or yellowish brown, with two rows of orange-brown, black-bordered spots. The adult broken-striped newt is smaller, about 3 ½ inches long. Olive green and yellow in color, as well, the broken-striped newt gets its name from a broken red stripe edged in black that extends from the back of the head to the base of the tail on each side.
The newt is an unusual member of the Salamandridae family because it undergoes two transformations during its lifetime, rather than one experienced by many other amphibians. Most salamanders have two forms, larval and juvenile/adult, where the juvenile and adult stages are similar in their appearance and choice of habitat. Newts typically pass through three stages—the larval stage, in water, the eft stage, on land, and the adult stage where the newt returns to the water again.
Newts can survive in a wide variety of aquatic habitats. Unlike some salamanders, newts can adapt to permanent ponds with fish. Newts’ favorite habitat, however, is temporary, or ephemeral, ponds that fill and dry out in cycles.
Learn more by reading the Eastern newt species profile .
The eastern newt is classified as a nongame species with no open season. It is unlawful for any person to take, or have in possession, any nongame mammal or bird unless that person has a collection license or is collecting fewer than 5 reptiles or fewer than 25 amphibians that are not endangered, threatened, or special concerned species.
There are no reported problems with this species.
Eastern newts are considered a common species in North Carolina but as with many other amphibian species, Commission biologists could use the public’s help monitoring their population. Attracting these salamanders to a yard can be as simple as providing cover by not removing fallen logs or creating wood piles and maintaining suitable adult aquatic habitat with both emergent and submerged native plants. Herpmapper (www.herpmapper.org) is an online database available for anyone to log their amphibian sightings into.
Eastern newt species profile (PDF)
Wildlife Diversity Program Quarterly Reports