Great Crested Newts at Culzean
So what’s so special about this pond tucked away in the woods of
Well, with over 10,000 school children to educate each year and a
lot of those children involved in the wildlife, natural history and
environmental aspects of the park, pond dipping had to be an
important part of those activities. What was needed was a large,
safe and secluded pond that would naturalise well and host all those
lovely slimy, squirmy, wiggly creatures so essential to a good
session of pond dipping.
So the rangers chose a good spot, and created a nice big natural
looking pond complete with vegetation and all the things necessary.
And boy did they do a good job! When out dipping one day—what is
that in your net… only a Great Crested Newt. Well, to me that just
means another slimy looking pond thing but to the rangers this was
So here is some information about them from
The Great Crested Newt’s habitat range extends from Great Britain
and Brittany in the west across much of Europe north of the Alps and
the Black Sea. It is one of only three amphibians which are
protected by the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. It is one of three
newts found in the British Isles, along with the Smooth Newt and the
Palmate Newt, and is the biggest and least common of the three.
It is a protected species under schedule 5 of the UK's Wildlife
and Countryside Act 1981 and is therefore subject to the provisions
of Section 9, which make it an offence to do anything unpleasant to
them, including damaging a breeding site or resting place.
crested newts have dark grey-brown backs and flanks, and are covered
with darker coloured spots so that they appear almost black in
colour. Their undersides are either yellow or orange-coloured and
are covered in large black blotches. Males can be distinguished from
females by the presence of a jagged crest that runs along their
backs, dipping at the rear of the abdomen to a smoother-edged crest
above and below the tail. Adult newts have been recorded that are up
to fifteen years old and often return to the same breeding site.
After a courtship display great crested newts mate and breed in
ponds and pools. The female lays 200-300 eggs on aquatic plants.
Once juveniles have emerged from ponds it can take up to 4 years to
reach sexual maturity, during which time the juvenile newts are
Outside of the breeding season, adult and juvenile newts are
found in suitable terrestrial habitat where they seek shelter under
rocks, logs and other suitable hiding places.
Their diet consists primarily of invertebrates including insects,
worms, water snails, larvae and sometimes tadpoles.
So now you know! It’s not just people that have a passion for
Culzean Castle and Country Park! The rangers’ dipping pond has
turned into a sanctuary for one of Britain's rare species.
Dip with care children!