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Species of the week: Chinhai Spiny Newt

By on October 3, 2011 in Species of the Week, Uncategorized

The Chinhai spiny newt (Echinotriton chinhaiensis) possesses a remarkable defence mechanism against predators.  Both sexes have a series of 12 highly conspicuous knob-like glands along either side of the body. They also have sharp, elongated ribs whose tips project through the skin when these animals are grasped. So that just when a predator thought he was about to get a nice morsel… the rib tips of the newts pass through enlarged glands injecting painful skin secretions into the mouth of would-be predator. In fairness the newts try to warn their predators. When threatened they assume a rigid posture, with the body flattened and curled up with the hands and tail raised: revealing the yellow-orange warning markings on its underside.

This Critically Endangered newt is a stout salamander with a flattened body and head. The males of this species can grow to the moderate length of 12 cm, and females being slightly larger can get to 14 cm. There are only approximately 300 mature individuals of this species living in low hill forests in the Beilun area, east of Ningbo City in Zhejiang Province, China. The Chinhai spiny newt is a secretive, land-dwelling species that hibernates for about five months of the year during the winter.

The species is very long-lived and slow breeding. There is little known about this species, it seems however that they become ready to reproduce only after reaching 10 years of age and they are likely to live for at least 20 years, or probably even longer. This newt is mainly threatened by habitat destruction and the pollution of its breeding ponds.

You could support grass roots conservation of species like this newt by fundraising for EDGE of Existence. Click here to find out how.