Newts are salamanders, and many types of newts lay their eggs in water. For example, the California newt, which is pictured here, lays seven to 30 eggs on underwater plants or their exposed roots. The red-spotted newt, one of the most well-known newts, can lay between 200 and 400 eggs at a time. So many eggs are laid because the female does not take care of them. Instead, a toxic gel-like substance is around the eggs to keep them safe from predators. Some female newts keep eggs from harm by wrapping a leaf around each egg. That can be a time-consuming process as she may lay up to 400 eggs. The amount of time it takes for the eggs to hatch depends on the type of newt; for the red-spotted newt, it usually takes between three to five weeks.
When the eggs hatch, the newts are in the larval stage and are called tadpoles. Most tadpoles develop in the water. At first, they breathe with gills and swim. As they grow older, lungs form;. They are called efts when they leave the water and go onto land before they become adult newts. The red-spotted newt at this stage is actually called a red eft. Some newts, such as the red-spotted newt, are different colors when they are in the larval stage than when they are adults. There are a few types of newts that do not become efts and remain in the water for their entire life cycle.
When newts become adults, most go onto land to live, but they still live by water because they have to keep their skin moist.They also live near water because they must return there to breed and lay their eggs. Newts are carnivores, eating insects, slugs, snails, and earthworms. They protect themselves from predators in different ways. The red-spotted newt has poisonous skin and has brightly colored skin that most predators know means danger. Many newts live to be between 15 and 20 years old.