Nature Champions: Smooth Newt

Howard Inns

Smooth newts can grow up to 10cm and are generally brown in colour, with an orange or yellow belly with black spots. The male smooth newt develops a wavy crest from head to tail in the breeding season, and perform elaborate courtship dances to entice females. Females lay hundreds of single eggs, which they hide by wrapping them inside the leaves of water plants. Smooth newts need neutral or slightly alkaline water, making areas with peaty soils unsuitable. This means it is largely restricted in Scotland to lowland areas with higher development pressure. Like the common frog, smooth newts may also colonise garden ponds.

Smooth newts eat invertebrates either on land or in water, they also prey on frog tadpoles. Outside of the breeding season, newts come onto land and are often found in damp places, frequently under logs and debris in the summer months.

Action Needed

  • To support the improvement and creation of suitable habitats and habitat connectivity.
  • To engage communities and householders to get actively involved in creating a space for nature, and specifically amphibian-friendly ponds and safe hibernation areas for amphibians.
  • To encourage land managers to create, enhance or safeguard amphibian-friendly ponds, insect-rich habitat and hibernacula.
  • Promote the monitoring of amphibians, including smooth newts, to improve our knowledge and better understand their population trends in Scotland.
  • Raise awareness of threats to amphibians, in particular smooth newts, using community science data to establish population trends and inform conservation action.
  • Help promote action to reduce the impacts of climate change.
  • Ensure the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy is fully implemented.


  • Destruction or neglect of breeding ponds
  • Habitat degradation and fragmentation
  • Pollution
  • Introduction of predatory fish
  • Non-native species and diseases
  • Loss of insect-rich habitats
  • Climate change impacts (e.g. ponds drying out during the breeding season)

MSP Nature Champion

Jenny Gilruth

Member for: Mid Fife and Glenrothes

Region: Mid Scotland and Fife

Party: Scottish National Party

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