We are, it seems, surrounded by all kinds of wildlife. This may look like a fearsome creature from the black lagoon. But I’m pretty sure it’s only a rough-skinned newt.
At least that’s the conclusion I reached after consulting The Oregon Encyclopedia, an online project of the Oregon Historical Society.
Newts are a kind of salamander. The description — up to eight inches long, large head with a blunt nose, color mostly black, leathery skin with a “granular or warty texture” — seemed to fit. The color of their underside is supposed to be yellow to orange, but this guy didn’t turn upside down so I could check, and I figured it would be impolite to flip him on his back.
The online fact sheet says the newts’ skin contains a powerful poison to protect them from predators. Glad I didn’t pick him up.
Newts are supposed to live in forests that contain lakes and ponds. I don’t know what this fellow was doing on our concrete driveway, which is nowhere near a pond, let alone a lake.
Garter snakes are said to be “significant predators” of newts. The little snakes have developed an evolutionary defense against the toxin. So it’s a good thing for this newt that the garter snake I photographed in July has not been seen since.