In 2007 a Black Isle dog walker noticed a strange looking newt. A few months later, also on the Black Isle in the Highlands, a schoolboy discovered a great crested newt breeding site.
Before this, there were only a dozen known sites in the Highlands where these rare newts could be found. Because these were all close to schools, roads or houses, most newt fans and herpetologists thought their presence this far north resulted from human introductions. These new finds, however, were well off the beaten track and they led to a search for further sites. Today there are more than 40 ponds in the Highlands where great crested newts are known to breed.
Some of these populations have become isolated though, and there is concern this could lead to inbreeding and potentially to populations dying out. More recently research has shown that great crested newts in the Highlands are not only native, they are unique and quite possibly the most famous newts in the world! Local newt expert David O’ Brien explains below how an SNH pond building project is bringing people together to help these famous newts.
The project aims to build around 25 new Highland ponds in areas where great crested newts are thought to have bred in the past. The ponds are designed specifically to meet the newts needs and it’s hoped they will reconnect isolated populations, helping them to become more resilient and their numbers increase.
So, what’s so great about crested newts? Why are local people turning out and giving up their time to help them? In half a minute on great crested newts, David explains why these curious creatures have always fascinated him.
For more information on this “poster boy of the amphibian world” visit our website.