Meet our Red-spotted Newts (Notophthalmus viridescens)

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These cute little guys are being raised in the Toronto Zoo for our education classroom. They are pretty small, reaching about 7-10 cm max. They live in quiet pools or slow-moving backwaters of rivers. They also like to visit ponds in woodland openings or in meadows which have an abundance of submerged vegetation so they can hide.

Red spotted newts are unique in that they have a three-stage life cycle: in the water as aquatic larvae, on land as a terrestrial efts, and finishing back in the water as aquatic adult. Newt larvae feed on smaller larvae, daphnia, snails, mosquito larvae, and other small aquatic invertebrates. Red efts are often seen on the moist forest floor and seldom enter the water. They produce a repelling substance that warns off other animals. They feed on spiders, caterpillars, flies, and invertebrates in the leaf litter.

In the photos above you can really see the difference in the gill breathing larvae to bright red, lung breathing eft. This transformation that takes about two months to complete followed by a terrestrial stage that lasts several years.