Alpine Newt

(Mesotriton alpestris)




Facts about this animal

Total length of 80 to 100 mm, females up to 120mm. In the aquatic phase, the males have a beautiful marbled arrangement of iridescent blue mottling and on the lower part of the flanks they have a bright blue band and a white line that is covered with many vividly distinctive black spots. Just under this the belly colour is visible which is a deep blood-red orange without any spots. The low (1½ - 2mm) crest going from the back of the head to the tip of the tail, is usually white or yellow with the same design as on the lower flanks, a series of black spots. On their tails are usually sky blue blotches irregularly with dark blue and black. The overall coloration of the females is brownish-beige and not as vivid compared to the males. They lack the white line with black spots and the crest and their bellies are of a lighter orange. On land these newts have a darker colour and a more velvety skin.

During courtship, the male will swim in front of a female, touches with his snout the flanc or the head of the female to confirm the genre and species, arches his back like a cat, turns his body, bends his tail and vibrates his tail in the direction of the female sending a stream of water in her direction. He then moves away and the female follows him. If the female then touches his tail with her head, the male produces a spermatophore which he lays on the bottom of the water. The female moves on top of this and takes the spermatophore up into a specialized repository within her cloacal region called the receptaculum seminis. About one week later she begins to produce a total of 150-200 2mm grey-cream eggs and individually wraps them within the foliage of any suitable aquatic plant. The time until hatching of the larvae is dependent upon the water temperature: At 13° C app. 30 days, at 16° C 17 days and at 19° C 13 days. The larvae measure 7-11 mm when just hatched. After a few days they start to eat plankton and can grow to 4-5 cm before metamorphosis. After 2 1/2 months the first young newts leave the water. Thus Alpine newts stay in water until late summer, feeding on frog eggs and newt eggs (!), Chironomus larve, small larvae of dragonflies, small shrimp. They are primarily nocturnal or crepuscular. From June to August they leave the water. Their skin becomes rougher and loses its colours and they are now dull brown-blue. Also the crest disappears. On land they fed on beetles, flies und earthworms.

Did you know?
It is astonishing how quickly and easily newly emerging water bodies (e.g. newly constructed garden ponds) are populated by Alpine newts.It seems that they can smell the odour of algae that develop in every body of water and are attracted by it.During courtship the female may collect a number of spermatophores from the same or several different males within few days and is able to store these for up to four months in the receptaculum seminis.Alpine newts can reach an age of up to 20 years.In mountain regions ultraviolet radiation could damage eggs and larvae. The newts however are able to perceive this radiation and protect themselves by loking for shelters. If they are held, they may emit a squeak and secrete a liquid from their skin as defense mechanism.


Name (Scientific) Mesotriton alpestris
Name (English) Alpine Newt
Name (French) Triton alpestre
Name (German) Bergmolch
Name (Spanish) Tritón alpino
Local names Croatian: Planinski vodenjak
Czech: Colek horský
Dutch: Alpenwatersalamander
Estonian: Alpi mäestikes; Alpi vesilik
Hungarian: Alpesi göte
Italian: Tritone alpino
Polish: Traszka górska
Romansh: Piutsch cotschna
Serbian: Planinski mrmoljak
Slovak: Mlok vrchovský
Slovenian: Gorski pupek
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed


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Photo Copyright by
Richard Bartz



Range The Alpine newt can be found in most parts of central Europe and is only absent from Scandinavia and the most southern regions of south Europe. The nominate form occurs in northern France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxemburg, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and the Balkan peninsula. The northern Alpine range is its centre of distribution. There it lives in almost every body of standing, fish-free water from the lowlands up to mountain regions.
Habitat On the north face of the Alps it can be found from March until June in very different bodies of water up to 2650 m in altitude: sunny garden pols (there is however a preference for shaded ponds), shady ponds in the forest, in puddles in highmoors where peat is cut, and sandy ponds in gravel pits. While some males hibernate in such bodies of water, most animals arrive in March at their destination, together with the common toads. Their terrestrial habitat is usually made up of wood rich areas.
Wild population A threat is the acidity of mountain creeks and ponds in particular on soil of silicate in the southern Alps, because when the pH-Values are low, reproduction is not possible anymore.
Zoo population 4 reported to ISIS (2007). In addition. wild Alpine newts have chosen many European zoos as their habitat.

In the Zoo

Alpine Newt


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 45 or 51 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


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Photo Copyright by
Christian R. LInder

Why do zoos keep this animal

Alpine newts are not threatened in the wild and are thus kept primarily for educational purposes. On one hand the reproductive biology of the species is of interest, and on the other it is necessary to familarise urban people with these animals they may encounter in their garden ponds or, when seaching for winter quarters, in their cellars. In several countries however this species is fully protected and catching and keeping it – also by zoos - it is strictly forbidden or subject to a licence. In Switzerland e. g. licences may be granted by the competent authorities for research or teaching purposes.