Bring on da newts!

This eft is not interested in sex.

This eft is not interested in sex at all.

Found a Notophthalmus viridescens, which you can call an Eastern Newt, cuz it lives on the east side of North America, or a Red-Spotted Newt, cuz it’s got spots. This newt is presently an eft.

Newts are salamanders with an extra life stage. Your standard salamander starts as an egg, hatches into a frilly gilled larva, exchanges the gills for legs and goes terrestrial as an adult. The newts add an in-between stage, where they are terrestrial but do not breed. Sort of like the post-graduation backpacking through Europe thing. When fully mature, they will move back into the water, keeping the legs but developing a more paddle like tail, where they will breed and spend the majority of their lives.  To distinguish the stages, the tadpole like guy is a larva, the terrestrial, semi-adult juvenile is called an eft and the fully breeding aquatic adult is called an adult. Got that? Egg, larva, eft, adult.

Newt 2

Ein Wassermolch von oben.

Other things to know about newts:

They eat small bugs.

Newt skin is slightly damp.

They have lungs, which turns out to be sort of an option for salamanders.

Newt skin is toxic, so don’t lick newts.

They get up to about 4 inches/12 cm long.

They can regrow legs if you cut them off, but that’s no excuse.

There is a newt that got to be 25 years old.

2 to 3 of those years are spent as an eft.

Efts are the part with the red spots. The mature adults have splotches, so Eastern Newt makes a bit more sense. Honest, they spend most of their life without red spots. Also that looks more like orange.

Eft gets you 6 points in Scrabble, so you need to use it with some hefty point multipliers for it to be really useful. Helpful during end game though.


“Notophthalmus viridescens.” Encyclopedia of life, available from Accessed October 8, 2015.

“Red-Spotted Newt”. Herps of North Carolina, available from Accessed October 8, 2015.

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2 Responses to Bring on da newts!

  1. Tenar says:

    This is so interesting! We don’t have this kind of newt in Europe. Our “salamanders” are terrestrial year round, they spend only a few hours in the water each year in order to procreate and their larvae grow up in rivers and creeks which flow fast. Our “newts” are aquatic from spring to early summer and terrestrial the rest of the year, they undergo a rather dramatic change in appearance twice a year when they change habitat. They live in ponds and pools or even puddles during their aquatic phase. In most “newt” species neotenic individuals occur who can spend their whole life in the water. One species which lives only in some big caves is completely neotenic.

    • You’re right. I checked my Kosmos guide, and then three other thicker sources. North American newts return fully to the water and only do the big change once. Asian and European newts go back and forth: eft, adult, eft, adult. Weird. Our adults can leave the water if necessary, but I can’t find anything mentioning that they revert to eft form.

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