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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California





California Newt  - Taricha torosa
Page 2: Breeding, Eggs, & Larvae

(= Coast Range Newt - Taricha torosa torosa)
 








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Breeding Season Adult Activity
California Newts California Newts California Newts California Newts
A mass of breeding adults underwater in the breeding pond in early March, Contra Costa County A mass of breeding adults underwater in the breeding pond in early March, Contra Costa County
California Newt California Newt California Newt California Newts
Adults in amplexus, swimming in breeding pond, Contra Costa County Adults in amplexus, swimming in breeding pond, Contra Costa County Adults in amplexus, swimming in breeding pond, Contra Costa County
California Newts California Newts California Newts California Newt
Females laying their eggs underwater in the breeding pond in late February, Contra Costa County Aquatic phase adult male in the breeding pond, Contra Costa County
California Newt California Newt California Newt California Newt
Male, aquatic breeding phase, with smooth skin and flattened tail,
Contra Costa County
Adult Male in breeding season,
Contra Costa County
Adult Female in breeding season,
Contra Costa County
Breeding female swimming underwater,
Contra Costa County
vs California Newts California Newts California Newt toes
Several males competing for a female that is somewhere in the middle of the mass. This was early in the breeding season when most newts in the pond were males.
(Multiple amplexus, or mating balls, where numerous males surround one female can cause the death of the female by drowning.)
Male (on top) female in amplexus During the breeding season, adult males develop nuptial pads on the toes to improve their ability to hold onto females during amplexus. Compare to the toes of a breeding female without nuptial pads.
California Newts California Newts California Newt California Newt
Female laying egg mass underwater (while grasping onto another egg mass) Female grasping onto underwater vegetation preparing to lay eggs Female laying her egg mass underwater Aquatic phase adult male in
breeding pond.
California Newts California Newts California Newts California Newts
These are some of hundreds of adult male newts that I watched one winter afternoon as they migrated up a small drainage to a breeding pond, slowly crawling against the current of water flowing from the pond through a small pipe. Their bodies have already undergone the change to their aquatic form, with smooth loose skin and broad flattened tails for swimming. The pond and pipe are visible in the picture on the left. To the right of that, you can see a logjam of newts at the opening to the pipe. There may have been something in the water that made them keep forcing their way up it because they could have easily gone around the pipe and entered the pond in just a few minutes walk.
California Newts California Newts    
Breeding newts, Santa Ana Mountains, Orange County © John Gerhard
Mating ball, Santa Ana Mountains, Orange County © Ken Pitts    
       
Eggs
California Newt Eggs California Newt Eggs California Newt Eggs California Newt Eggs
Eggs, close-up Eggs, close-up Eggs, close-up Cluster of eggs attached to
underwater vegetation
California Newt Eggs California Newt Eggs California Newt Eggs California Newt Eggs
Eggs at edge of breeding
pond that is drying up
Eggs at edge of breeding pond Mature Eggs Egg with mature larvae
California Newt Eggs California Newt Eggs California Newt Eggs California Newt Eggs
Eggs at the shallow edge of a pond Eggs at the shallow edge of a pond Single egg cluster attached
to underwater vegetation
Eggs attached to a stem underwater.
California Newt Eggs California Newt Eggs California Newt Eggs California Newt Eggs
Eggs attached to underwater vegetation at the edge of a breeding pond
Eggs and Newts
california toad eggs      
There are four types of amphibian eggs in this Alameda County pond in late Fegruary:
On the top left near the surface is a Sierran Treefrog egg mass.
To the right and slightly below that is a California Newt egg mass.
Below these small egg masses are several recently-hatched California Toad egg strings (no longer eggs, really.)
And the large egg mass in the bottom right corner of the picture is from a
California Red-legged Frog.

© Mark Gary
     
       
Aquatic Larvae and Recently-metamorphosed Terrestrial Juveniles
California Newt Larva California Newt Larva California Newt Larva California Newt Larva
Larva in June, Alameda County Larva in shallow pool, June, Alameda County Larva, Alameda County
© Marcia Grefsrud/CDFW
California Newt Larva California Newt Larva California Newt Larva  
  Larvae in August, Alameda County
   
       

The following pictures show a newt larvae from Alameda County in various
life stages, from an aquatic larva, to a tiny, fully-metamorphosed juvenile newt.

California Newt Larva California Newt Larva California Newt Larva  
Larva, underwater, in late June Larva, underwater, in late July  
California Newt Larva California Newt Larva California Newt Larva  
Larva in early August, developing the warty skin and orange coloring typical of adult newts.
Still living in water, but showing reduced gills, preceding the transformation to breathing air.
The newt is underwater in the left and center pictures and in the air in the right picture.
 
California Newt California Newt California Newt California Newt
3 days later, the same newt out of the water. The newt is now coming up for air, but still living in water. A tiny bit of the gills remain. The dark band around the neck shows where the skin is shedding. 2 days later, the newt has just emerged onto land, breathing air. The skin is rough and still retains some of the dark larval markings.
California Newt California Newt California Newt  
2 Weeks later, the newt is now fully terrestrial, but still very tiny.
 
Breeding Habitat
California Newt Habitat California Newt Habitat California Newt Habitat California Newt Breeding Pond
Breeding ponds during breeding season, early March, Contra Costa County Breeding pond during breeding season, late February, Contra Costa County
California Newt Breeding Pond California Newt Breeding Pond California Newt Breeding Pond California Newt Breeding Pond
Breeding pond during breeding season, late January, Contra Costa County Breeding pond during breeding season, late February, Contra Costa County Breeding pond during breeding season, late February, Contra Costa County Breeding pond during breeding season, late February, Contra Costa County
California Newt Breeding Pond California Newt Breeding Pond California Newt Breeding Pond California Newt Breeding Pond
Breeding pond during dry season,
Contra Costa County
Habitat, breeding pond in March,
Contra Costa County
Breeding pond during breeding season, February, Contra Costa County Breeding pond in winter,
Contra Costa County
California Newt Breeding Pond California Newt Breeding Pond California Newt Breeding Pond California Newt Breeding Pond
Creek habitat where larvae were seen in summer, Alameda County
Breeding pond, Contra Costa County Breeding pond, Contra Costa County Breeding pond, Contra Costa County
California Newt Breeding Creek California Newt Breeding Pond California Newt Breeding Pond  
Breeding creek, Kern County Dry breeding pond in November,
Contra Costa County
Full breeding pond during breeding season, late January,
Contra Costa County
 
       
Short Videos
California Newts California Newts California Newts California Newts
A big ball of newts forms in the breeding pond when a male and female in amplexus are approached by several male newts who want to take the female.

(Multiple amplexus, or mating balls, where numerous males surround one female can cause the death of the female by drowning.)
Male and female newts in amplexus in the breeding pond. The males hold on tight and swim around the pond using their huge tails. One uses the toes on his hind feet to stroke a female, probably to make her receptive to take his spermatophore. Views of a large mass of female newts in the breeding pond, as they go about laying and securing their eggs. Female newts repeatedly attack and bite at newt egg sacs. Maybe they want to destroy the eggs for some reason or they're trying to eat them, or maybe there is another explanation.
California Newts California Larva    
At the beginning of the breeding season we see single males patrolling the edge of the pond waiting for females to arrive, and females crawling overland and entering the water. Coast Range Newt Larvae, about an inch in length, swim and crawl around underwater in a small aquarium.    
 

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