Hunting the Little Red Dragon

Another seasonal resident has just started to show itself above ground, slinking along through clumps of moss and ferns. The little red efts or newts. It is always exciting to spot the first ref eft of the season and, to be honest,  I never tire of finding them.
When my kids were small, we called them the little red dragons and finding them was a cause for celebration (hey, when you’re entertaining small children, you find any excuse for a party, right?).
When the red efts first come out of the water after their metamorphosis from gilled tadpoles, they are less than an inch long. They then grow up to be about 4 inches long ambling along on delicate toes – four in front and 5 in back. Their bright orange color will fade to green later in their lives.
My kids once asked me if they were red because they were hot – which made me laugh at the time, but, in truth, their color is a warning. Their skin exudes a mild toxin that makes them unpalatable to predators.
Eventually red efts will go back to the water to mate and lay their eggs, but while they’re on land we will enjoy hunting them in the underbrush or helping them across the road.

Color a Newt: LINK
Draw a Newt: LINK
Newt Movie: LINK
Match and Color the Salamanders: LINK

This entry was posted in Wild Moments by Sheri Amsel. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sheri Amsel

Sheri Amsel has degrees in Botany and Zoology from the University of Montana 1980, a Master's Degree in Anatomy, Physiology and Biomedical Illustration from Colorado State University 1987. Ms. Amsel interned at the Smithsonian Institute in 1983 in Scientific Illustration, taught anatomy and biology at three colleges from 1990 - 1997. In addition, Ms. Amsel has published more than 15 nonfiction children's books, two field guides for adults, and illustrated a myriad of books and interpretive displays on nature and science topics. Ms. Amsel has done science programming at more than 300 schools nationally, developed more than 20 educational nature trails in New York State, and coordinates school visits to local nature trails for environmental education programs for the Eddy Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to conservation and habitat preservation. Ms. Amsel created the Exploring Nature Educational Resource website with the hopes of sharing her science and environmental education knowledge and experience with science educators and students worldwide.