Successful newt hunt after Coldingham find

One of the great crested newts found among telephone cables in Coldingham
One of the great crested newts found among telephone cables in Coldingham

The great crested newts found in a manhole in Coldingham sparked a south of Scotland newt hunt.

Volunteers have found evidence of them in two other areas where they haven’t been recorded - at Cummertrees in Dumfriesshire and Culzean Country Park in Ayrshire.

Water samples taken across Scotland by volunteers with the Lottery funded Great Crested Newt Detectives project have been DNA tested and the results have been surprising.

The project is run by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) Trust, and Great Crested Newt Detectives project officer, Dr Pete Minting said: “The result from Coldingham is interesting because it suggests that great crested newt populations in the Central Belt of Scotland may be linked to those in north-east England.

“Until now, there appeared to be a gap in their distribution between Dunbar and Berwick-upon-Tweed.”

After a broadband engineer found the newts in Coldingham, ARC asked volunteers to look for likely breeding ponds and collect water samples. A nearby pond gave

a positive DNA result and later, great crested newt larvae were found in the same pond.

The great crested newt and its habitat is protected by law and a licence from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is usually needed when surveying for this species. However, a licence isn’t needed to collect water samples for DNA testing, making participation in the Great Crested Newt Detectives project straightforward for volunteers.