A Newt


Specifically, a red-spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens; Salamandridae), in eft form.

What’s an eft?

Newts have three distinct life stages: larva, juvenile, and adult.  The larvae are aquatic.  The juveniles are terrestrial and known as efts.  The eft stage can last 2 to 7 years in this species.  The adults are aquatic or semi-aquatic, depending on species (this one is aquatic).

Red-spotted newts are widespread through the eastern US, particularly in the Appalachians.

This bright-colored creature illustrates aposematism, the characteristic of having bright colors that serve to warn away predators.  At all stages the red-spotted newt can excrete poisons (including tetradotoxin) through the skin, but in eft form the animal is particularly potent.  Touching one probably won’t kill you, though.

As a rule, the presence of amphibians suggests a reasonably healthy ecosystem.  We saw several in Finger Lakes National Forest.

More information here and here.

photographed in Finger Lakes National Forest, New York