Newts are not as slippery as most salamanders, with their skin being rougher and not slimy. The red-spotted newt is a fairly small, graceful looking salamander, averaging about 10 cm in length. The adults are green in base color, flecked in black, with one row of red spots haloed in black on either side. Adults are totally aquatic, however, a terrestrial sub-adult phase occurs which is called a red eft. Efts lack a tail fin, and are orange to brick red in color. Newts are found in permanent ponds, and lakes where there are few fish competitors, feeding exclusively on invertebrates.
Mating takes place in spring, in water, and after elaborate courtship. Eggs are laid individually on aquatic vegetation, then abandoned. From the larval phase, newts transform into terrestrial efts and will remain as such for one to five years, serving to disperse the population. The efts then transform into aquatic adults and generally remain so.