Newt rescue - updated with helpful advice 20 Feb

A local resident stopped in Mill Lane this morning (17 February) to show an appreciative audience a Common Newt that she had found alive on a pavement close to Castle Keep.

The newt was being taken to the River Avon by its kind rescuer.

Earlier a water vole had been spotted by the footbridge but unfortunately there wasn't time to photograph it, only to admire its swimming prowess.

Added 20 February Richard Death, Volunteer Warden at the nearby WWT Devenish Reserve comments on the above News Story:

"Absolutely no hint of criticism to anyone, but there are a couple of points that may be of interest.

Newts regularly spend the winter in damp areas of vegetation on land and then return to the water (a pond, or stream etc) for mating. Clearly, a pavement is not a good place for a newt, but it probably wasn't seriously lost, and putting it in a sheltered place in a meadow or garden would be fine.

We are all becoming rather more aware of the possibility of transferring common diseases between species (that can be minor for one species and serious for another). I am very bad at following the advice (!) but we should try not to touch creatures with bare hands to minimise the risk of passing diseases. When I have monitored newts at Blackmoor Copse with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, they require us to wear gloves. They have also mentioned that since newts have a very low body temperature, our hands can feel very hot to them, and in the worst cases, could give them minor burns.

What the neighbour did was very helpful in protecting the newt from the dangers of the pavement and almost certainly saved the life of the little chap. Allowing other people to see such a shy creature, also had massive "awareness" benefits. Maybe, if there is a next time, scooping the newt up in a flower pot or anything else to hand and moving it a short distance to a place of safety would have done just as well. If no suitable container was available and holding in the hand was the only option, then reducing the time of contact, and washing hands afterwards would be great.

Please don't feel I am trying to be negative, it was a very positive and kind act."

Richard Death


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