Posted by: Ross Gardner | November 18, 2015

Miniature Marvel

Cutting last summer’s growth back and generally winterizing the garden around the pond today and I found, along with a sizeable toad, the smallest newt I think I have ever seen.  Improbably small, in fact.  It would have been dwarfed alongside some of the maturing newt tadpoles I have seen during the season just gone.  It was revealed by my disturbing of the generous layer of fallen cherry leaves beneath which it was sheltering – as good a reason as any not to be too tidy with the garden.

Tiny Smooth Newt (Triturus vulgaris).  Ross Gardner 2015

Tiny Smooth Newt (Triturus vulgaris). Ross Gardner 2015

Some words that were quick to come to mind were Ted Hughes’ “perfect / Pike in all parts” which he uses to describe a Jack (young) Pike in his poem ‘Pike’.  Sure enough, he was wise to apply those word to that voracious fish rather than the above amphibian; inserting the word ‘newt’ doesn’t really provide the same impact and neither adequate alliteration.  A similar sentiment can however be shared by the two animals.  But for a somewhat over-sized head, yet – as it were – to be grown into, it was a rather exquisite miniature of the adult which it will become.  And they are, like the fish, voracious enough in their own right, although perhaps a bit further down the food-chain.  As adults they are well regarded by many a gardener for their appetite for such troublesome invertebrates as slugs and snail, but even as freshly hatched and minuscule tadpoles they take immediately to a carnivorous life-style, predating correspondingly tiny aquatic creatures.

And who knows?  This little thing could meet with good fortune enough to see it to a ripe old age, which for a newt could be about ten years.

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