Great Crested Newts Are Now A Protected Species

An article providing interesting information about great crested newts and how it is important to ensure their habitats remain undisturbed wherever possible.

Great crested newts are the UKs largest Newt; large males are easily recognisable by the distinct jagged crest and almost aluminous silvery, blue stripe down their back. Both males and females have dark brown bobbly skin and an orange tummy with black spots. They are not the cutest things to look at but they’re certainly a great creature that needs to be protected.

Crested Newts

Photo Credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clearlydived/6987044981/

Unlike most newts, Great Crested Newts spend most of the year living on dry land but they do require access to water, such as ponds and lakes to breed. The ideal site for breeding would be a medium to large pond with base rich water; it must be deeper than half metre, preferably without many predatory fish.

Numbers of Great Crested Newts have dropped significantly over the last 100 years and they have now become a protected species by law in the UK and Europe. This means that it is an offence to capture, injure or kill them; it is also an offence to damage or destroy their habitat. It is against the law to keep Great Crested Newts as pets, even if you’ve had them from an egg. Property developers and property investors are now being encouraged to have a Great Crested Newt survey completed on land before it is purchased. Leaving a check until after the purchase of the land can often cause more delays or cost money; if the land is a habitat for the newts then building simply cannot commence, or the area could be professionally cleared of the newts so they can be safely re-located. Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud announced in August 2012 that plans to build 108 homes and apartments in Oxford has been delayed due to a number of factors; one of those factors was the fact that they had discovered Great Crested Newts meaning that development plans may have to change to include green areas so that the Great Crested Newts and other wildlife will still be able to live within the area.

There are professionals that will safely remove the newts and re-home them in an ideal habitat. During this process newt fencing is often used to keep newts within a specific area; these fences act as a safe wildlife barrier. Environmentalists also used newt fencing along with traps to capture the creatures to help assess the population levels within a certain area of land.

Recently a pond in Whiteparish, Wessex, has been awarded the Wessex Watermark Award thanks to its colony of Great Crested Newts, this has led to funding to remove debris from the bottom of the pond and improve the habitat for the newts to breed and mature in.

This article was written by Jason Keates – an ecologist – for www.threeshires.com who can provide Newt fencing to anyone that requires it.

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