This week’s AotW is the Eastern Spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens). These are interesting newts with kind of a weird life cycle. They hatch from eggs, go through a “tadpole” larval form, which like most salamanders is entirely aquatic. These then mature into “red efts,” (The animals in the picture at top are still losing their reddish efty coloration) which are entirely terrestrial. Efts are also bright orange-red, and extremely poisonous, so uh, like don’t eat them, OK?
Then once they’re done being efts on land for about three years, the fully matured adults turn yellowish green with a line of bright red spots and return to the water to live aquatically. Isn’t nature weird? Seems like an awful lot of effort just to get back into the water, but it may be that they do the eft thing so they can disperse themselves to new territories, as efts are known to travel away from their birth place to new places. They are also know for being one of the most toxic animals in the east, not quite as poisonous as Taricha granulosa, but pretty darn nasty, so if you find them, seriously, do not eat them. Or get them near open cuts or mucous membranes.