Sunday, March 5, 2017

You can’t even lick ‘em!

Our first day here we were told about the Rough-skinned Newt that lives on the refuge.  There is even a sign on the main path warning folks not to handle them.  They are found throughout the West Coast and British Columbia. 

Many newts produce toxins from skin glands as a defense against predators but the Rough-skinned Newt produces the same toxin found in puffer fish.  It also radiates an acrid smell as a warning to stay away.

We were told that in 1979 a 29 year-old went into a bar and, on a bet, swallowed a Rough-skinned Newt.  He was dead before the day was out.  Generally the toxin is released only if the newt is ingested but skin irritation can occur if the newt is handled.

Yesterday was a very wet, cold day here and we saw a couple of them.  We met some folks on the trail who said they had already counted 12 on their walk.  This is the only salamander active above ground and out in the open during the day. 

He’s a stocky dude!  The skin is granular but the males are smooth-skinned during breeding season.  Overall they are about 4 1/2 to 7 inches in length.  The iris is yellow or silver and they will display a bright colored underside when threatened.  They can be yellow or tan but are usually dark brown or black. 

Garter Snakes (the only snake in this area) are the only known animal today that can eat a Rough-skinned Newt and survive.


  1. Very interesting. We have been in that area but I didn't know about Newts.

  2. I probably would have picked it up not knowing.