More newts in the compost!

newts in the compost! ~photo by Corey

Some newt facts from Wiki:

Red-bellied newts have a brownish black topside to avoid being noticed. When that fails, and they are seen and disturbed, they pull their head and tail back to reveal their bright red underside. This serves as a warning to potential predators, as red-bellied newts have enough of a neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin in their skin to easily kill an adult human, or 7,500 mice.Like other newts, Red-bellied newts have the ability to regenerate several body parts, including their limbs, eyes, hearts, intestines, and upper and lower jaws, and damaged spinal cords.

The Red-bellied Newt, when fullgrown, measures between 2.75 to 3.5 inches from its nose to its vent, and between 5.5 to 7.5 inches from nose to its tail. It has grainy skin, and is brownish black on top with a tomato red underbelly.It can be distinguished from other coastal newts by its red belly and a lack of yellow in its eyes. Breeding males develop smooth skin and a flattened tail.

Many newts produce toxins in their skin secretions as a defense mechanism against predatorsTaricha newts of western North America are particularly toxic. TheRough-skinned newt Taricha granulosa of the Pacific Northwest produces more than enough tetrodotoxin to kill an adult human, and some Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest used the toxin to poison their enemies. More recently, a 29-year-old man in Coos Bay, Oregon, who had been drinking heavily, swallowed a rough-skin newt for a dare; he died later that day despite hospital treatment.

Most newts can be safely handled, provided that the toxins they produce are not ingested or allowed to come in contact with mucous membranes, or breaks in the skin.After handling, proper hand-washing techniques should be followed due to the risk from the toxins they produce and bacteria they carry, such assalmonella.It is, however, illegal to handle or disturb Great Crested Newts in the UK without a licence.

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