HASSO HERING

A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

From the wildlife front: Meet a newt

Written September 16th, 2018 by Hasso Hering

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.

A garter snake below the front steps. Around here you never know what animal will cross your path next.



   


6 responses to “From the wildlife front: Meet a newt”

  1. J. Jacobson says:

    Wasn’t he the Speaker of the House? How the mighty have slithered.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      He was, and deserved to be, because he was the smartest person in almost any room (my own lame opinion). But then he played a huge role in creating the polarization that may yet destroy the country. Slithered, indeed!

  2. Paula says:

    Oregon rough skinned newts are not poisonous to touch or handle. However do not eat them, you will die. Every person I know that is a coastal native played with them growing up. We aren’t dead or affected by handling them.
    But there were some university of Oregon fraternity boys that were drinking and on a date swallowed 3 alive newts. The three boys all died in a short amount of time.

  3. Avid Reader 1 says:

    I love creatures, big and small. I like the newt at your house much better than the speaker, Newt (homo-sapien species). I’ve only seen one garter snake at my house in 22 years I’ve lived here. Used to see them all the time when I was a kid here in the Valley.

 

 
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