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March 29, 2008

A Temescal Newt

My daughter and I went on a beautiful hike in Topanga State Park yesterday, taking the Temescal path up to the waterfall. At the base of the waterfall, we saw a lizard swimming in the water. She caught one, and then more. It was very exciting, and also a truly magical experience, one that you'll remember for the rest of your life. (One that always makes you want to stop at a stream and look under rocks because you never know what you'll find.)

I can't figure out exactly what kind of newts these were, they don't match up exactly to any of the 10 that apparently live in the Santa Monica Mountains. I think it's either of California Newt or a Monterey Newt, but honestly it looked different than either of those. They were very friendly and very cute.

And parent of the year alert... either way, it was probably poisonous! It secretes toxins through it's skins that can kill a human. Good thing we washed our hands. (It doesn't bite.) Of course, I didn't know this at the time. But apparently, as long as you make sure to wash your hands, you'll be fine.

If anyone could tell me what kind of newt this was, I'd appreciate it.





Posted by jason on March 29, 2008 02:08 PM


I believe it to be an adult Sierra Newt in the aquatic stage.

It is really an amazing creature! Great find.

Posted by: Ian on March 29, 2008 03:44 PM

I believe it be a very underdeveloped, hairless horse. A very rare find, indeed.

Posted by: jessica on March 29, 2008 05:14 PM

actually, it's not a Sierra Newt. it's a
California Red Newt

Posted by: Anonymous on March 29, 2008 05:14 PM

Posted by: Anonymous on March 29, 2008 08:37 PM

according to the ranger from the park:

It is called: T. Torosa or California Newt and has different coloring
according to age and sex. Though, I cannot perfectly tell from the image
whether it is age or sex that gives this one a different apperance than the
one on the website, it is definintely a California Newt. Be sure to wash
your hands thoroughly after touching the newt. Its skin contains
neurotoxins. When threatened, the newt rears back its head and feet
exposing its underbelly. The orange color of its underbelly is a warning to
birds. Though, the intensity of the color varies again by age and sex.

Glad to see that you found one at Temescal. Often streams that are closer
to neighborhood areas are lacking in this amphibiian. It is threatened by
the non-native crayfish, because they eat newt eggs. Be cautious around
underwater rock outcrops at it tends to lay its eggs on branches and
protrusions beneath them. They are commonly found in the pools, though not
as common in pools that suffer pollutants and over watered streams. The
newt relies on a decrease in the water levels seasonally, Run-off from
homes makes many creeks unhealthy for the newt that lives a part of it's
lifecycle in pools and part on land.

I hope all this helps,

Enjoy the park!

Ranger Judy

Posted by: jason on March 30, 2008 11:44 PM

Ian, I wanted to point out that the Sierra Newt and the California Newt appear to be very closely related, if not the same animal all together. Look at their latin names on those pages.

Posted by: jason on March 30, 2008 11:56 PM

yeah, further down the page it says "Alternate Names: California Newt"

I read that because it is easier than latin.

There is something about Judys knowing about slimy animals...

Posted by: ian on March 31, 2008 08:03 AM

That is an amazing creature! What a great find. You and Lyric are quite brave. Honestly, I think if I found one of those I would probably pick it up, and then fling it away in fear, like that crab we found! I think these guys would make a great screen play . . . I'm thinking you could call it "Newts on a Plane". Lots of the little slimy guys with all those neurotoxins . . . terrifying and a box office hit for sure.

Posted by: Chris on March 31, 2008 11:40 PM

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