Identifying newts and survey hints
We want to know especially about the smooth and palmate newts you see in
your garden pond, look for them in the weeds at the edge of your pond,
especially in any shallow water. You may also find newts in the open
water, where you may be lucky enough to see males displaying to females.
On a warm sunny day, you may see newts floating just under the surface
of the water. Can you spot more newts during the daytime or at night?
Identification features for smooth and palmate
- Both smooth and palmate newts grow up to about 10cm long
- Male smooth newt: Wavy continuous crest, spotty body and belly
- Male palmate newt: Tail filament, and black hind feet
- Female newts: Plainer in colour without large spots; smooth and palmate
newt females look very similar.
Male smooth newt showing wavy, continuous crest
and spotty body
Male palmate newt showing tail filament and black hind feet
Close-up of male palmate newt hind feet
Female smooth and palmate newts look very similar – they are plainer in
colour than the males and can be hard to tell apart. For this survey,
count the total number of female newts you can see!
Great crested newts
are rarer than the other species but you might
be lucky enough to see them in your pond! Please just tick the box
if you see any – they can be easily disturbed so please don’t spend
time counting them. They are much larger (up to 15cm) and darker in
colour than the others and the males have a jagged (zig-zag) crest.
You might also be able to see a white flash on the male’s tail.
As well as newts, frogs and toads could be living in your pond. Tick
the boxes if you find them!
have long, athletic back legs, a
smooth, shiny skin and a black eye-mask that includes the ear-drum.
are less athletic with shorter legs and have a dryer-looking,
Find out more about identifying amphibians at
To identify and record other creatures, see our links page
- Tell us your name and e-mail address in case we need to ask you
about your newt record. We won’t pass on your details to anyone
else! Don’t forget to fill in the grid reference or postcode of
where the pond is so that we can plot your newt sightings on our
- Submit your results by the end of May so that we can display them
in a map on the website!
- Tell us if your pond is small (up to 1 x 1 m), medium (up to 5 x 5
m) or large (bigger than 5 x 5 m); how old it is (in years) and how
shady it gets. There are drop-down boxes for this on the on-line
- We’d also like to know if your pond has any plants or fish.
- The other information about whether cats use your garden, whether
it’s a wildlife garden, whether you use chemicals or not, and how shady your pond is, will
help us work out if these things are good or bad for newts.
- You can also add notes about your newt hunt in the box provided!
- You’ll receive a message telling you when your newt record
submission is successful! Don’t forget to
Tell a Friend
if you think
they’d like to hunt newts too!