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albino smooth newt

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: Herpetofauna Native to the UK
Forum Name: Smooth Newt
Forum Description: Forum for all issues concerning Triturus vulgaris
Printed Date: 10 Apr 2021 at 10:30pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.06 -

Topic: albino smooth newt
Posted By: will
Subject: albino smooth newt
Date Posted: 10 Mar 2011 at 6:13pm
Hi all
I mentioned an albino smooth newt had been spotted in a garden pond which also had a population of some albino toads last year; just got this photo of it from this spring courtesy of Steve Pash, a naturalist based in the vicinity of the pond, which is in Ruislip, North-West London.

Still curious as to why the same pond has two species showing albinism - also it's an unusual smooth newt as most albinos also still have gills - suggesting a thyroid problem.  This one seems to be a 'true' adult.  Curiouser and curiouser...


Posted By: will
Date Posted: 11 Mar 2011 at 5:27pm
a couple more I've been sent of the same animal; the one in the hand looks almost golden

Posted By: Liz Heard
Date Posted: 23 Mar 2011 at 6:35pm
great find and pix will.

ive read about this (or certainly a similar home counties) garden pond before. a few years ago there was an article/pix in the BHS journal on its toad and newt albinos.

sorry, no i cant direct you to it. i only borrowed the publication from a mate.

unusual occurrence isnt it? i wouldnt know whats driving it though!
if it IS the same pond, are the nos of albinos increasing i wonder?

thanks a lot for posting this very interesting item!


Posted By: will
Date Posted: 24 Mar 2011 at 6:06pm
Cheers Ben - I guess the BHS journal could have been referring to the same pond.  I'll see if I can track it down.  

Posted By: Noodles
Date Posted: 25 Mar 2011 at 9:37am
Hi will,
I have seen this a couple of times in Great Crested Newts
before; the newts being pale cream/orange with a more
pronounced orange dorsal stripe and a slight
'transparency' to the skin. Your Smooth newt (in hand)
looks identical in colouration to the GCNs I've seen.

They are thought to be amelanistic (or lacking the
ability to produce melanin pigments). It is generally
considered to be genetic but may also be environmental or
chemical (pollution). Thus your two in one pond, the
question is which. As with true albinism in Smooth newts
you would expect to see signs of neoteny due (as you say)
to the corruption of the glands associated with thyroxine

Either way rare and/or perhaps localised in origin

Posted By: Noodles
Date Posted: 25 Mar 2011 at 9:50am
P.S. red frogs are generally considered amelanistic and
this is associated with inbreeding and genetic isolation
(as i'm sure you know). This may be worth consideration if
an urban/isolated population of newts...Just a possible
theory, don't roast me for it   

Posted By: administrator
Date Posted: 25 Mar 2011 at 5:19pm
Originally posted by Scale Scale wrote:

P.S. red frogs are generally considered amelanistic and
this is associated with inbreeding and genetic isolation
(as i'm sure you know). This may be worth consideration if
an urban/isolated population of newts...Just a possible
theory, don't roast me for it   

Have you got a reference for this? I've been saying for years red frogs were not a good sign in a population, I simply never saw them back in the 70's when frogs actually were 'common'

Posted By: Noodles
Date Posted: 25 Mar 2011 at 6:48pm
Gemma, I'm not sure where i saw it. It must have been in
a well known publication as i thought it was common
knowledge. Likely one of the several Amphibian and
Reptile of Britain books or T Beebees book on Frogs and
Toads. I'll keep my eyes peeled and let you know if i
find it.

Caleb, i'm glad you told be that. I had felt that either
should be possible (i'm certainly no expert on the
subject). What are your thoughts on amelanism in newts?
Have you heard of albinism in GCNs? because i have seen
what i would call amelanism in two specimens (both looked
similar to Will's newt).   

As the man in the orthopedic shoe said: 'I stand

Posted By: Noodles
Date Posted: 26 Mar 2011 at 3:00pm
Originally posted by Caleb Caleb wrote:

In amphibians, as well as melanin (black or brown) it's
common to have yellow/orange/red pigments.

That was my understanding of what amelanism was (lacking
brown and black [melanin] but exhibiting other pigments),
although i also recognise that true 'albinos' will often
exhibit pigments accumulated from external sources during
adult development(particularly yellow). Elsevier's
dictionary of herpetological terms cites the very same.

My understanding of true albinism is a lack of all
pigments at birth(pink from the blood vessels being the
only 'colour' exception)?

I'll have a look at that book you mentioned.
Many thanks for this

Posted By: will
Date Posted: 27 Mar 2011 at 10:40am
Wow! thanks for all the conjectures folks!  At any rate, whether it's albino or amelanistic it's a nice looking animal and the red eye suggests there's no dark pigment production I suppose.
I found out that the BHS article was about this very pond; also that albino toads had been recorded around twenty years ago in a pond just around the corner from the current location, so it's a situation with some history.  I have argued that 'odd coloured' amphibians in garden pond situations may be to do with enhanced survival chances in the sheltered environment of gardens rather than in the Darwinian school of hard knocks out there in the wild.  This wouldn't exclude the possibility of inbreeding producing more animals exhibiting colour variants in the first place, but equally a reduction in selection against brightly coloured morphs could heighten this phenomenon. 

Posted By: Noodles
Date Posted: 27 Mar 2011 at 11:42am
excellent stuff

Posted By: JamesM
Date Posted: 27 Mar 2011 at 12:28pm

That is interesting.

I didn't think Albinism occured in Amphibians!

Posted By: kithara
Date Posted: 23 Sep 2011 at 9:50am
thats ideed very interesting... rarely you see albino wc animals 

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Posted By: kit
Date Posted: 24 Sep 2011 at 12:17pm
cool pic i have never seen a albino one before!!!


Posted By: sablemole
Date Posted: 24 Mar 2012 at 3:02pm
We have an albino smooth newt in our pond this year. She appears to be laying eggs so the results will be interesting.

Posted By: JaySteel
Date Posted: 08 May 2016 at 9:02pm
I thought I'd resurect this old thread.

I went round to visit a lady in Kent who has the leucistic Smooth Newts in her pond. Unfortunately I was unable to find them today. She has a fairly large pond (12ft x 12ft) that's 5ft deep with about 12" of substrate at the bottom. The pond's full of Common Frogs with thousands of  tadpoles, and anywhere between 50-100+ Smooth Newts. She has taken photos of two leucistic specimens in her pond but I failed to find them today in the depths of the water. She's going to catch one and give me a call if either of the leucistic specimens surface again.

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Posted By: will
Date Posted: 09 May 2016 at 7:11am
wow! Looking forward to some professional tank-based photos of these beauties.

Posted By: JaySteel
Date Posted: 09 May 2016 at 3:51pm
I just hope they turn up again. Maybe being albino / leucistic they don't like all the hot sunny weather we've had? Maybe tomorrow's predicted rain will bring them out.

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