I have an adult Red-spotted Newt, Notophthalmus viridescens, in my small pond. Doing research, and learning about this newt has been a fun journey.
A type of salamander, they start out their life in a pond, marsh, stream or small lake, as an egg mass that resembles a big wad of cotton, attached to a piece of underwater vegetation.
The Red-spotted Newt, lays her eggs, one at a time, and the eggs, often numbering a few hundred, will hatch in a month or two, depending on the water temperature. When the eggs hatch they become larvae with feathery gills and a coloring much like the adult Red-spotted Newt.
The larvae live in their watery environment for 2 to 5 months eating aquatic insects and small snails.
At the end of summer, larvae will leave the water, shedding their gills, developing sac-like lungs, and begin another stage in their lives, as Red Efts, remarkably beautiful orange beings with brighter orange spots, surrounded with black circles.
I enjoy finding Red Efts, while I’m out in the woods. They are slow moving critters, appearing to be willing models for my photography.
They spend as many as 4 years as terrestrial creatures. During this stage the Red Efts will hibernate during the winter under a log or rock. During the summer in dry weather they may seek shelter under those same logs or rocks to keep their skin moist, coming out during rainy weather.
For the next couple years, the Red Eft will become darker, and develop a longer, blade-like tail. He will find a body of water to enter, where he will live for the rest of his life as an aquatic adult. In this stage he will eat insects, frog and fish eggs, crustaceans, and worms.
Red-spotted Newts can live to be 12 to 15 years old. Quite a long life for a critter so small, generally growing as an adult to 5 inches long.
It took me a few years, first to find that I had a newt in my pond. And then to have the information click in my brain, to realize that this newt, and the Red Eft, and all the cottony masses of eggs were all the same species.
Fun finds in the forest!