Shy, secretive salamanders can be hard to find. But on rainy days, hikers and forest walkers may just spot a particular orange amphibian crawling through leaf litter—and it’s not the least bit bashful!
The creature commonly called the red or orange “eft” is actually the Eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) in the second of its three lifecycle phases. It begins as a fully aquatic creature with gills, then enters the “eft” stage where it is most commonly encountered by hikers due to its bright red or orange skin. Eventually, it will return to the water as an adult and assume a more demure yellow and green color palette.
Efts aren’t just showing off with their bright, flashy colors. Their orange skin sends a signal to would-be predators: “Warning! Extremely poisonous!” So while they seem to stick out like a sore thumb on the forest floor, they are far from defenseless. Learn more about salamander behavior and life cycles on our website.
Here are five photos of red efts from past editions of our Picture This photo contest. The 2017 contest is open now, so enter your wildlife and nature photographs today!