Posted by Sara King BSc (Hons) ACIEEM on 7/03/2012

It’s that time of year again; the first frogs are spotted in garden ponds and ecologists begin to think about donning their waders in preparation for the great crested newt survey season.  This involves endless long evenings setting out bottle-traps in which to catch great crested newts and returning early each morning to count their catch.

Adult great crested newts generally spend the winter months on land before heading back to their ponds in spring for the breeding season.   This provides a short window of opportunity each year to count individuals whilst in their ponds.  

Great crested newts and their habitats are fully protected by European law.   This is good news for great crested newts, but perhaps not such good news for those who plan to carry out works on land near to ponds supporting them.  Our experienced licensed surveyors across the country are ready to take on the Newt Challenge.

Test your knowledge and find out more facts about great crested newts……

Natural England aim to process licence applications in 30 working days.

  •  How many surveys are required to confirm presence/absence of great crested newts?

Four surveys make up a presence/absence survey.  Each survey should consist of three detection methods; usually torch searches at night, bottle-trapping (traps set in the evening and retrieved the following morning) and egg searches. 

  •  When can great crested newt surveys be undertaken?

The survey window is from mid-March to mid-June with the optimal time being mid-April to mid-May when half of the four surveys should be undertaken.

  •  What habitats are great crested newts associated with?

Great crested newts are amphibians and require both land and water to support their entire life-cycle; on land foraging habitat includes rough grassland, scrub and woodland and underground in cracks, crevices and mammal burrows, refuge habitat includes, under logs and rocks, for example, and hibernation sites, include woodland and hedgerows where cover and litter debris is present to protect them from the elements and disturbance during winter dormancy.

  •  Do great crested newts hibernate?

Yes, generally by the end of November great crested newts enter their period of dormancy and they generally immerge again in spring (late-February onwards subject to temperatures).

  •  How long do great crested newts live for?

Great crested newts reach sexual maturity at between three and four years.  There is a record of a great crested newt living up to 14 years!

  • Why are great crested newts protected?

Great crested newts have declined over the last century, more so than the more widespread species (frogs and toads, for example) in partbecause of their more specialised life-cycle requirements. Changes to land management, farming practices in particular, and habitat loss are key drivers in this decline.  Because of this decline the great crested newt is one of the UK’s most strictly protected species and is afforded European protection (Habitats Directive).

Information sources: Great Crested Newt Mitigation Guidelines. English Nature 2001; Great Crested Newt Conservation Handbook. Froglife 2001.

How did you do? If you want answers to anymore of your great crested newt queries then do not hesitate to contact us!