An Ewt

This is a juvenile eastern newt, also called a red-spotted newt. 

He began his life as an aquatic tadpole with gills, then graduated to this juvenile terrestrial stage.  After 2-3 years he'll become an adult, green with red spots, and go back to living in water. 

The juveniles are called red efts. 

The red is obvious, so obvious it makes you wonder why something this brightly colored is not eaten immediately but it's because he's orange.  To predators orange means Danger! Poison! and indeed red efts secrete poison from their skin when threatened or injured. 

What about the word eft?  Why is the name of a juvenile (eft) so different from the name of an adult (newt).

In Old English the name of this critter was pronounced eft or ewt.  Either name was OK.   Eventually "an ewt" became "a newt."   For example....

"She turned me into an ewt!

"A newt?" 

"I got better..."


(photo by Stan Kotala)

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