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How to Tell if a California Newt Is a Boy or a Girl?

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California newts (Taricha torosa) are amphibians that, in line with their monikers, come from sunny California. These robust salamanders are prevalent in coastal regions of the state. California newts divide their time between terra firma and aquatic environments. Male and female California newts aren't easy to distinguish, but at the same time, aren't totally identical.

Background Information

California newts are memorable for their eyes, which are extremely big and jut out. Their bottom eyelids are noticeably pale. The upper portions of these newts' bodies are anywhere from black to light brown, while the lower portions are markedly brighter -- think orange or yellow. California newts are common sights in an array of habitats, notably calm creeks, woodlands, lakes, ponds and forests. Food-wise, these newts are big on things such as slugs, snails, bugs and worms. California newts respond to perilous situations by showing off their vivid stomachs, which function as "back off" signals. Adult specimens are a hazard, as they emit an aggressive neurotoxin via their skin. Avoid contact with California newts. If you ever happen to touch one of these little guys, thoroughly cleanse your hands immediately.

Size and Gender

Size sometimes can be a helpful physical clue regarding identifying the gender of a California newt. Mature individuals generally reach lengths of anywhere between 4.9 and 7.8 inches. The males typically are just a little bit bigger than the females.

Male Skin and the Reproductive Season

Observing the skin of California newts during the reproductive season also might be useful as a gender determination tool. If a male newt resides in the water and it also happens to be mating time, his skin might take on a soft and even appearance. If a male newt lives on dry land and isn't mating, however, his skin might look a lot rougher, with lots of conspicuous warts. California newts typically reproduce at any point starting from December into the beginning of May.

Male Wooing Behavior

Analyzing wooing activities also can be handy for telling male and female California newts apart. When males try to lure females in for mating, they typically dance by moving around them repetitively. They then go on top of the females and massage their chins directly over their faces, specifically their noses. As they do this, they generally wave their tails around, too.