The largest of our three native newt species, the great crested newt is unmistakable. They can be found anywhere in the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, but are more common in ponds around Brecon.
The great crested newt reaches up to around 17 cm length and it’s skin appears rough. They are brown or black over most of the body, with a bright yellow/orange and black belly pattern. Adult males have jagged crests running along the body and tail.
Like all newts, they require freshwater habitats such as ponds for breeding. Eggs are laid singly on pond vegetation in spring, and larvae develop over summer to emerge in August – October, normally taking 2–4 years to reach maturity. Juveniles spend most time on land and can travel considerable distance from breeding sites.
Breeding sites are mainly medium-sized ponds, though ditches and other waterbody types may also be used less frequently. Ponds with lots of aquatic vegetation (which is used for egg-laying) are favoured. Great crested newts do not require very high water quality, but are most frequently found in ponds with a neutral pH.
Ponds in practically any habitat can be suitable but the most frequent being farmland, woodland, scrub, and grassland. Great crested newts can be found in rural, urban and post-industrial sites.
The surrounding landscape around ponds is very important, since great crested newts are often found where there are a cluster of several ponds. Great crested newts are only pond residents during the breeding season in spring. During the rest of the year they might be found in stone and log piles, hedgerows, dense vegetation or practically anywhere that offers shade and damp. Routes that connect these ponds such as hedgerows can be very important, as are winter hibernation sites in log piles, stone walls and in woodlands.
Great crested newts are protected in UK and European law. For information on newts and planning applications in the National Park please click here.
The Brecknock and Radnor Amphibian and Reptile Group (BRARG) is a local group of volunteers interested in the conservation of all reptiles and amphibians. For more information about the group, visit the BRARG website.