California Newt, Taricha torosa

The California Newt (Taricha torosa), known also as the Orange-bellied Newt, is a newt located mainly in California. The adult length can range from 5 to 8 inches. The skin gives off a potent toxin.

T. torosa is divided into two subspecies; the Sierra Newt (T. t. sierrae) and the Coastal Range Newt (T. t. torosa). The difference between these two appears to be only in the location in which they can be found.

They exist mostly on the California coastline and in the Sierra Nevada, due to their preference for less humid climates than the Rough-skinned Newts. Outside the breeding season, the newts are land-swelling, showing a preference for rock crevices and logs. During the breeding season, the subspecies T. t. torosa prefers slow-moving water in coastal streams.

Reproduction takes place generally between December and early May. Typically, the adult newts will come back to the pool in which they hatched. After a mating dance, the male mounts the female and rubs his chin on her nose. Then, he attaches a spermatophore to the substrate which she will retrieve into her cloaca.

The masses of eggs that are released by the female contain between 7 and 30 eggs and is roughly the consistency of a thick jelly dessert. Typically, the egg masses are attached to stream plant rods or to rocky crevices in small pools of slow-moving water, but they have also been known to be attached to underwater rocks or leaf debris.

The adult newts will remain in the pools throughout the breeding season, and can be occasionally found well into the summer. Larvae hatch sometime in early to mid-summer, depending on local water temperatures. The larvae are hard to find in streams, as they blend in well with the sandy bottom, to which they usually stay close to.

Their diet usually consists of snails, earthworms, slugs, sowbugs, mosquito larvae, and other invertebrates. They will also consume trout eggs.

Image Caption: Taricha torosa — California Newt. Credit: Chris Brown/Wikipedia