Systematic classification and distribution
Species: T. carnifex
The Italian Crested Newt is the largest European newt. It is present throughout continental and peninsular Italy, to the south at least up to 39.1 parallel. Also present in the Austrian Alps and southern Switzerland, in the Viennese forest, in southern Bavaria, in Slovenia, Istria and northern Croatia. Once recognized as a geographical breed of T. cristatusrecent karyological studies have elevated its rank to full species.
The adults, the males up to 14 cm long and the females up to 18 cm, have a dark back and orange / yellow belly more or less thickly spotted with black (in some specimens it can be completely black); the specimens that live further north often have a thick white dot on the sides and muzzle, absent in the Apennine and Southern specimens.
It stands out from T. cristatus to have, in addition to different morphometric parameters, less warty skin, white punctuation of the hips absent or reduced and the yellow vertebral streak always present in the female. It has very pronounced sexual dimorphism especially during the breeding season. The females reach larger sizes than the males, often have a yellowish vertebral streak and have a flat and little salient cloaca in its ventral portion. The males, during the breeding season, have very inconspicuous secondary sexual characteristics: vertebral crest even more than a centimeter high, with serrated margin, presence on the sides of the tail of a milky-white band with silky reflections, cloaca bulging hemispherical shape.
The larva is up to 8 cm long (but almost always a little smaller), is brownish in color and is characterized by the tail, which gradually tapers into a long filament.
They can be found in pools and ponds from February / March until June. In fact, many specimens leave the breeding sites at the beginning of summer, spending the summer in the undergrowth and then hibernating in the winter and only a few specimens remain in the water until the first colds arrive.
Italian Crested Newt (photo www.hylawerkgroep.be)
Italian Crested Newt