Great Crested Newts found at new National Trust ponds in South Somerset 

As part of a project to enhance habitat for local wildlife, eight new ponds were created last year across National Trust properties in South Somerset. After a recent survey, young Great Crested Newts have been found at four of the eight ponds along with other amphibians such as frogs and palmate newts.  

“Cresties”, as they are sometimes known, are present at Tintinhull Garden and Lytes Cary Manor and historically been present at Montacute House. ‘We are delighted to discover that only one year after the ponds were created newts have moved in and started to breed’ says Mark Musgrave, Lead Ranger in South Somerset, National Trust. 

You can see some of the ponds at Lytes Cary Manor if you follow the purple and red waymarked trails through the estate. The ponds at Tintinhull Garden are in the orchard adjacent to the formal garden, and at Montacute House they are in the fields east of the main parkland (one is alongside the public footpath that crosses the A3088). 

National Trust Rangers have worked closely with Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAG SW) Officers on the project (funded by Natural England) to design the ponds to provide the ideal habitat requirements, so that these nocturnal amphibians can thrive. 

As well digging out the ponds, the Ranger team have made sure that the surrounding environment is suitable for the newts too. Great Crested Newts go into a torpor state (like hibernation) in the winter so need shelter under rocks, logs or in holes in the ground. They return to the ponds in the spring, in search of food and a mate. Female newts will lay eggs carefully folded into vegetation, such as water mint, for protection. The newts then venture into the surrounding terrestrial habitat where they feed on invertebrates throughout the summer and autumn. The young newts (efts), born in the spring, will remain in the water until August. 

To ensure that the newts have the range of habitat they need to flourish, a large hibernacula has been constructed alongside each pond and wildflower seed has been sown to encourage insects which the newts will eat.