Rough-skinned Newt

Today on the Buntzen Lake Trail, I saw a little Rough-skinned Newt.  It was on Pump House Road, just steps from the bridge. When I posted this on Flickr, someone thought it was a Western Redback Salamander, but Ivan Phillipsen, of Wild Pacific Northwest, informed me that it was a Rough-skinned Newt.

It blended in with the road so well, I almost walked right past it.

Rough-skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa)

Luckily, I took my good camera today so I could get a good shot.

After I finishing taking my photos, I used a stick to take him to the side of the trail. He was stiff as a board. I hope that is a defence mechanism !

This amphibian is much more commonly seen than the Western Red-backed Salamander, because the newt walks around in the open, whereas the salamander is much more secretive.

Toxin-resistant garter snakes are the only known animals today that can eat a rough-skinned newt and survive.

In evolutionary theory, the relationship between the rough-skinned newt and the common garter snake is considered an example of co-evolution. The mutations in the snake’s genes that conferred resistance to the toxin have resulted in a selective pressure that flavors newts which produce more potent levels of toxin. Increases in newt toxicity then apply a selective pressure favouring snakes with mutations conferring even greater resistance. This cycle of a predator and prey evolving to one another is sometimes termed an evolutionary arms race and has resulted in the newts producing levels of toxin far in excess of what is needed to kill any other conceivable predator.

11 thoughts on “Rough-skinned Newt

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