In the cooler part of the year, when amphibians are dormant, we mainly dedicate time for office work. This is the time for writing reports and articles, editing and processing data, planning measures, and preparing for the new field season. Although most days in the office can be quite ordinary and often monotonous, even when analyzing the data obtained from past seasons, we are sometimes surprised by exciting news.

We were delighted by one of these a few weeks ago while reviewing photos from last year’s monitoring of the newly excavated ponds in Jovsi. We photographed each animal caught and then immediately released it back into the environment. We took special care in photographing the ventral side of the Italian crested newts, as we can distinguish individuals from each other based on their unique pattern of dark spots on the belly and throat. Abdominal samples were also photographed on young newts from the breeding station just before the release into the wild.

And what made us so happy?

It turned out that one of the newts, which we caught in Ortmann’s funnel trap on May 19, 2023, hatched, developed, and metamorphosed in the breeding station in Podsreda. Each individual in the breeding station also received an identification number upon hatching, and to make the coincidence even greater, we again caught a newt with no. 100, exactly nine months after the release (8/19/2022).

Anja says that when she caught it, she sensed that this newt could be one of their ‘fosters’. It was smaller than the other adults caught that day, and it was caught in the neighboring pond from the pond where we released the hatchlings from breeding the year before. It was this that prompted the further verification and comparison of belly samples of caught newts with all 166 belly samples of newts released in the previous year. However, since the spots on the belly change considerably with the growth of the animal, especially in the first years of growth, after finding a potential match, we also consulted with experts from the CKFF and other organizations. After reviewing the literature on the development of newts and consultation, we concluded that it is indeed a re-catch of our newt.

Newt no. 100 is the first newt we can confirm has successfully survived the winter months. It is also an additional confirmation of the success of supportive breeding in Podsreda. We hope that there will be more such meetings in the coming seasons.

Photo: A. Bolčina