Around this time last year while I was out walking Jazzmin, we came upon these small orange lizard-looking things. I’d never seen them before but I thought they were rather adorable. As I hate seeing creatures squished in the road, I helped the little guys (there were 3 total) across the road.
When I picked each of them up they stayed very still in my hand and even after I set them back down in the opposite shoulder of the road they acted frozen. My friend who knows more about such creatures than I do, explained that such behavior is common for something that’s prey. They remain still because predators don’t want to eat something that isn’t moving. They really shouldn’t worry, I have no intention of ever eating them.
After that first encounter with the little red lizard things I learned that they’re actually the juvenile stage of the Eastern/red-spotted newt. In that phase they’re referred to as “red efts” and they look like that until they transition to their adult aquatic phase. I’ve taken it upon myself to help as many as I can cross the road as they move from land to water.
Searching for red efts in the shoulder of the road is a bit tricky this time of year as orange and red leaves fall from trees. Amazing how similar a little folded leaf looks to an eft. I’ve saved a couple this season but obviously I can’t save them all. Looking down at the road I see many small creatures that haven’t made it and that makes me sad. I don’t think huge human automobiles are really included in the natural circle of life.
Red efts do secrete a toxin but in order to be affected by it I think I’d have to fry up a whole pan of them for dinner. As I stated earlier, I have no plans on eating them so I think I’m quite safe. Eastern/red-spotted newts aren’t endangered so I’m not suggesting you embark on a red eft rescue too. Helping little creatures across the vast expanse of paved human pathways is my way of making a difference, even if that difference is no bigger than a tiny red eft.