Thursday, April 7, 2011

Newts do it...

I wandered over to The New Dharma Bums' blog the other day, and found newts in flagrante delicto.  And it got me to thinking about just how newts go about making more newts. The sex lives of animals (and plants) was a topic I covered with great enthusiasm in my books, mostly because that oh-so-interesting topic seemed to rarely be covered in the field guides I was reading.

So here, because you surely want to know, is an explanation of what rough-skinned newts are doing in ponds right about now:

Males arrive at the breeding sites before the females, and undergo a transformation. Their dry, bumpy skin becomes moist and smooth, their tails flatten, and their cloaca (a vent on the animal's underside for digestive, excretory, and reproductive tracts) enlarges, and "nuptial pads" develop on their feet and hind legs. These pads help the male grip the female during their slippery underwater courtship. He entices her by clasping her from above, stroking her with his hind legs, and rubbing his snout across hers.

He deposits a spermatophore (sperm packet) on the pond bottom in front of her, and if he has successfully wooed her, she picks it up with her cloaca. Fertilization occurs internally, and the female will lay her eggs one at a time, attaching them to submerged plants throughout the pond.

Lookin for love in all the wrong places--
find a pond, Newt!    Photo by Henk Wallays

















And next year, the resulting newts will probably return to the same pond they were hatched in to engage in their own watery trysts.

So there you have it, and you need no longer lie awake at night, wondering how newts reproduce.

21 comments:

  1. Ah! That is soooo romantic! *wipes away tear*

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  2. Did you know that the rough-skinned newt also engages in mating balls? They can get a dozen of them all roped up together in a clump and stay that way for days. I sense a kindred spirit. I also wrote about newt sex a while back.

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  3. Oh Murr, you wrote something about newt sex? I am rushing right over to your blog to check it out!

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  4. I love knowing this. I had wondered why the male's tale seemed different from the female's. They do have such a brief but meaningful courtship.

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  5. And wearing those funny little grins the whole time!

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  6. I rather like the fact that she can get the cuddles without having to pick up the spermatophore. And I will never think of that stripper's trick with a folded twenty dollar bill in the same way again.

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  7. Then of course I had to follow Murr's post about the newt- orgies. Reading about Rush Limbaugh covered in goo and held underwater for several days makes this SO not a bad use of time!

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  8. Interesting! I was lucky enough to spy on two Juniper Titmice mating the other day at the park. Fascinating animals... :)

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  9. Ha! Very voyeuristic, Ranger Kim!
    Oh yeah, birds have cloaca too--reproducing via the kinda sweet-sounding "cloacal kiss."

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  10. What a fun blog---happy to have discovered it via your comment on mine---thanks for stopping by Backyard Spectator. Possum post was as memorable as whaling village post was complex and intensely interesting--- not to mention full of paradox. Are you a naturalist by trade or hobby? Will stop by often if I can figure out how to become a follower.

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  11. Thanks very much for your kind comment, dkm. I was an "interpretive naturalist" at Mount Saint Helens and in the Columbia RIver Gorge for several summers, but these days paying work takes me in different directions.

    I was especially interested in www. backyardspectator.blogspot.com because of your interest in "the simple act of paying close attention for one hour per day" to the natural world in your own backyard. That's similar to something in "Kidnapping the Lorax"--slowing down enough to pay attention. It's what my three young kidnapper characters try to impose on the Secretary of the Interior--with not nearly as much success as you've achieved! ;o)

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  12. I found a slot of honor in my blogroll for you, and am looking forward to getting your book in paperback. No Kindle yet...although I'll probably get one before I get a cell phone.

    Somehow I think we're going to get along JUST fine.

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  13. Hey, Murr, I thought I was the last holdout when I got my cell phone last year--but I see that I beat you to it. (Apparently my teenage daughter's claims were false!)

    I am indeed honored to be included in your blogroll...now who are those other people on there? I'm going to go check them out...

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  14. sex?????????????????? what's that???????????

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  15. The pheromones are a'flying, aren't they? Great post, and thanks for checking out my blog, too. I'm always humbled by the folks who have such specific knowledge about nature. Your sites are so valuable to people like me who are learning their way through the fields.

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  16. Hey Emily, thanks for coming by, all the way from Minnesota!
    Emily writes poetry ("The thick nouns of our winter cold are soon to disappear...") and posts lovely photos over at her blog, landingoncloudywater.blogspot.com. She also came up with "Thirty before Thirty"--a list of things she wants to accomplish before her next birthday in Oct. Go, Emily, go!

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  17. I've heard of the 30 by 30 list before, but only this year. I should have found it last year, because this year is the year I turn 30. Maybe a 31 by 31 list or something since I'm behind! Hm...thanks for giving me something to think about!

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  18. Hey Emily, thanks for coming by, all the way from Minnesota!
    Emily writes poetry ("The thick nouns of our winter cold are soon to disappear...") and posts lovely photos over at her blog, landingoncloudywater.blogspot.com. She also came up with "Thirty before Thirty"--a list of things she wants to accomplish before her next birthday in Oct. Go, Emily, go!

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  19. Thanks very much for your kind comment, dkm. I was an "interpretive naturalist" at Mount Saint Helens and in the Columbia RIver Gorge for several summers, but these days paying work takes me in different directions.

    I was especially interested in www. backyardspectator.blogspot.com because of your interest in "the simple act of paying close attention for one hour per day" to the natural world in your own backyard. That's similar to something in "Kidnapping the Lorax"--slowing down enough to pay attention. It's what my three young kidnapper characters try to impose on the Secretary of the Interior--with not nearly as much success as you've achieved! ;o)

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  20. And wearing those funny little grins the whole time!

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  21. Did you know that the rough-skinned newt also engages in mating balls? They can get a dozen of them all roped up together in a clump and stay that way for days. I sense a kindred spirit. I also wrote about newt sex a while back.

    ReplyDelete