Two hybrid newts at Staplehurst

2nd May 2011, Monday

I have found a second smooth x palmate newt hybrid in the same pond at Staplehurst, distinguished by its pattern of belly spots, which can be used in the same way as a human finger print to distinguish between individual amphibians.  This animal had more strongly developed webs on the hind foot – more obviously midway between the fully developed black webs of the palmate, and the toe-fringes of the smooth newt.  The tail was similar to the last specimen, with a filament, and the same general palmate colour pattern, apart from the orange base to the tail, while the spotted belly and white throat and upper body colouration were typical smooth newt.  The dorsal crest was low and resembled a palmate newt.

Smooth newt x palmate newt hybrid showing foot webbing

Of twelve newts found at the site with a tail filament ten have looked like normal palmate newts and two (16%) have looked like hybrids).