This Red Eft is the juvenile stage of the Eastern Newt. We found this little one in a Beech-maple forest just uphill from a creek in the Hockley Valley Provincial Nature Reserve. Eastern Newts start out life as an egg (in a mass of up to 400 eggs) in the water. As an aquatic larvae, they have the ability to breathe through gills. As they grow, they develop lungs and can leave the water to live on land. After several years living on land, Red Efts will fade to light green and then go back to living in the water again as a mature newt. I cannot help but visualize John Cleese as I write this. When they become a newt, they do not develop gills again and must come to the surface of the water to breathe air through their lungs. Their front feet have 4 toes and their back feet have 5 toes. They eat insects (springtails), snails and minnows. Red Efts have toxins (poisons) in their skin. Their bright orange colour warns predators that they taste bad – so don’t eat one.
“Newts have an amazing homing instinct that is called “true navigation”. They are capable of returning to a specific location and scientists believe that they do this by sensing the earth’s magnetic fields. Field experiments have found that an eft stays within 800 meters of its natal pond and establishes a home range area of about 300 square meters.” *
Red Efts are very cool.
*Red-Spotted Newt, n.d., viewed October 15, 2014, http://www.sierrapotomac.org/W_Needham/RedSpottedNewt_100705R.htm