Common newt Triturus vulgaris Earc sléibhe

Only one species of newt is found in Ireland (there are three in Britain) which should simplify identification. However, newts, being amphibians, spend the summer in fresh water and hibernate in winter, usually beneath stones. In this state they have been mistaken for lizards but they do not have the hard shiny and scaly skin of the latter. They are also smaller, measuring up to 4in. (10cm), with a vertically flattened tail, 'finned' along its length on both sides.

The female newt is light brownish, paler underneath, and the larger male is greyish profusely spotted with black. In spring when the pair have taken up residence in a pond disused well or other freshwater habitat, the male develops a bright orange belly flush with blue and red markings on the tail. A long wavy crest along the back is used to full effect in an elaborate underwater courtship display.

Eggs are laid individually in a folded pondweed leaf; these hatch out into tadpoles complete with gills for underwater breathing. This phase lasts well into autumn when, with the their lifecycle.