Sierra newts are endemic to the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, which means their habitat is restricted to this area. They inhabit grey pine-blue oak or ponderosa pine communities outside of breeding season. Sierra Newts are aquatic breeders and have shown a strong preference for using streams for breeding. These animals spend about six months of their early lives in water, first as eggs and then as larvae. When in their aquatic life stage, Sierra Newts require good vegetative cover to remain hidden from predators.
While there are currently no significant known threats to Sierra Newts, other species within the same genus are facing population declines due to habitat loss and predation by introduced species such as mosquitofish, bullfrogs, and crayfish. Many experts feel it’s just a matter of time before these threats expand to the Sierra Newt as well.
If you are interested in newts and want to find this colorful creature in its own habitat, now is the time. Sierra Newts begin migrating to breeding streams in January and can be seen near streams and creeks until about May. The best places to look are in or near the pools of creeks and streams.