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Smooth newts prefer Whiskas

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Liz Heard View Drop Down
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    Posted: 10 May 2010 at 8:36pm
today as an experiment i dropped some crushed-up, wet catfood into an open space in my pond and watched.
within a few minutes about 20 assorted species/gender Brit caudata swam into the accumulating commotion and a kind of confused, would-be feeding frenzy ensued. tiny dirt clouds kicked up everywhere by thrusting snapping bodies.
the animals could smell food in the water but since sight is as important a sense as smell in newts they took a long time sniffing around before locating it. sometimes biting each others limbs by mistake (they quickly realised the mistaken identity and let go- no harm done thankfully)

curiously, although helveticus and cristatus ate some of the "meat" (if you can call the highly processed goods on offer that). they werent that keen and after a gulp or two, often lost interest and swam off.
not so the smooths. id say 80% of it was consumed by vulgaris specimens!

earlier this year i also saw a fem vulg eating the very decomposed remains of (we think)an adult frog (it was little more than jelly and entrails). so its not the first time ive seen "carrion" consumed by the species.
ive not seen cristatus or helveticus do it yet though im aware sightings have been reported on this forum occasionally.
another way in which vulgaris' food-gathering strategy seems to differ from the other two species is that it proactively darts after and hunts down, fast-moving prey like tadpoles with far greater vigour, regularity and success. rather than just having a hopeful snap at passing prey a la cristatus.tadpoles can get too big for many helveticus. neither of these species "chase" as frequently.

maybe these two food-gathering adaptations, go part the way to explaining why vulgaris (inappropriate name for a beautiful animal) is britains most common species of newt and the only one "good enough" to have made it west to ireland.
its menu certainly seems pretty catholic.
any thoughts dear readers?
ben
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Suzi View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 May 2010 at 5:05pm
Just glad I'm rearing my taddies in a very large plastic container as my pond is stuffed with newts!
Suz
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