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Central Newt

Notophthalmus viridescens louisianensis

Family: Salamandridae

The Central Newt is a sub-species of the Eastern Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens).

COSEWIC status:
  • Not Assessed
SARA status:
  • No Status
IUCN status:
  • Least Concern


Central Newts are green, olive or brown with dark flecks and sometimes a few red spots, and the belly is yellow with black spots or flecks. This species lacks the costal grooves that are present on most other Canadian salamander species and the tail is laterally compressed with a prominent ridge. Red efts (see biology) are generally bright red or orange with a row of black-bordered red to orange spots on each side. Aquatic larvae are grey to brown, often with two rows of yellow spots and have feathery gills behind the head, legs (both front and back) and a tail fin. Central Newts can grow to 12 cm in total length.

Similar Species

Central Newts may be confused with the other sub-species of newt found in Ontario, the Red-spotted Newt. Central Newts are smaller than Red-spotted Newts and usually lack the red spots on the back. Unlike other Canadian salamanders, newts lack costal grooves and they have rough textured skin. The laterally compressed tail also distinguishes them from many Canadian salamanders.


In Canada, Central Newts are only found in western Ontario along the north shore of Lake Superior and west toward Manitoba. This subspecies also occurs in the United States in a narrow north-south band from the Great Lakes region west of Lake Huron south to eastern Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi and then east to South Carolina.


Aquatic adults and larvae can be found in wetlands, ponds, pools, sloughs, slow streams and other permanent shallow aquatic habitats. These habitats typically have abundant aquatic vegetation and are often in forested areas. Terrestrial red efts are generally found in forests, although they can also be located in old fields, back yards near natural areas and wet meadows. In large, permanent bodies of water, newts often spend the winter in the water and may remain active through much of the winter. Individuals that inhabit shallow or seasonal wetlands hibernate in terrestrial habitats in underground cavities or under cover such as rotting logs.


Central Newts breed in the spring. Females lay 200–375 eggs singly or in small clumps, which they attach to aquatic vegetation or submerged leaves. The eggs typically hatch in two to four weeks depending on the temperature. In late summery or early fall, aquatic larvae typically develop into terrestrial juveniles (red efts), but some individuals may also develop directly into aquatic adults. The juvenile red eft stage lasts for two to seven years before individuals return to aquatic habitats and transforming into aquatic adults. This terrestrial stage is a unique adaptation that allows an otherwise aquatic species to disperse over land to locate new aquatic habitats. The terrestrial eft stage also enables populations to persist through periods of drought when aquatic habitats become limited. Central Newts can live up to 15 years in the wild. Adult newts prey on a variety of aquatic invertebrates, such as insects and microcrustaceans, while terrestrial newts forage for invertebrates on the forest floor.


Pollution, habitat loss and road mortality may threaten some populations, although most of this species’ distribution in Canada is in relatively remote areas. Climate change and introduced pathogens pose potentially serious future threats to Canadian salamanders.

Additional Information About This Species In Canada