SPAIN 2011

 

 

Amphibia: URODELA (Newts)

We recorded two species of urodelans (tailed amphibians ie. newts and salamanders) from the Salamandridae.

Salamandridae:

Pleurodeles waltl - Iberian ribbed newt
The Iberian ribbed newt is usuallyonly on the Iberian Peninsula and in neighbouring North Africa, where it is usually found in densely vegetated wetland areas, to an altitude of 1,500 m, but it also takes advantage of ponds and pools in more arid areas. Therefore it was a joy to find this charismatic newt in a small roadside pond at the Zarzalejo site. The largest newt in Europe (200-300 mm), its sharp ribs protrude through the skin on the flanks as protection against predation. It is nocturnal, which is when we found it near the surface in the littoral vegetation, and it feeds on insects, worms and slugs.

Iberian ribbed newt,
Alytes cisternasii

a specimen from near Zarzalejo
click on the images to enlarge

Triturus pygmaeus - Southern marbled newt
When we found these newts in the ponds and pools at Zarzalejo we initially thought they were Marbled newts (Triturus marmoratus) but our location in Madrid was inside the range of this smaller (max. 110 mm) southern taxa, which had recently been elevated to specific status, and the flanks of the newts were more spotted than marbled. The Southern marbled newt is endemic to the southwest Iberian Peninsula. We found males and females, the former distinguished by their elevated dorsal body crests although both sexes have caudal crests. We also found a tiny immature newt with stunning colouration of black on lime green and a vivid orange longitudinal dorsal stripe.

Southern marbled newt,
Triturus pygmaeus

a male from Zarzalejo
Southern marbled newt,
Triturus pygmaeus

a female from Zarzalejo
Southern marbled newt,
Triturus pygmaeus

a juvenile from Zarzalejo