Protected Species: Great Crested Newt

Adult Male GCNPhoto: Adult Male Great Crested Newt with breeding stripe (Photo by:By Rainer Theuer. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


The Great Crested Newt (Triturus cristatus) (GCN) is the largest of our three native newt species. Compared to the Smooth Newt and Palmate Newt, which may only reach 11cm and 9cm respectively, the GCN can reach up to 17cm.  Like other newt species the GCN spends much of its life on terrestrial land outside of the breeding season as much as several hundred metres away from a pond. This species prefers woodland habitats with leaf litter, burrows and vegetation offering shelter, though they are not limited to this habitat.

Why is the Great Crested Newt Protected?

Although widely distributed throughout much of lowland Britain, the GCN is suffering a massive decline throughout Europe due to loss of habitat, intensification of agriculture and infilling of ponds. A decline in the suitability of the terrestrial and freshwater habitats, introduction of predatory fish, as well as industrial pollution and agricultural runoff, fragmentation and poor pond management are primary causes for this species decline.   

Protection Status

GCN’s are a European protected species and listed in Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) meaning that it is an illegal offence to “intentionally kill, injure or take any wild animal listed on Schedule 5 and prohibits interference with places used for shelter or protection, or intentionally disturbing animals occupying such places” unless under specified circumstances.  The maximum fine on conviction of offences is currently £5,000. The species is protected due to significant habitat loss in its native range across much of continental Europe.

Reporting Protected Species

You should record the presence of protected species on a national database. This can done by contacting the local Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO).  Alternatively you can record online at the National Biodiversity Network. You should also alert the appropriate land owner, council and or management body to the presence and location of this species. 

Useful information:

Great Crested Newt Habitats Suitability Index Full Info

Identification of Great Crested Newts