Extremely Poisonous Newt!


– I’m Coyote Peterson and
today we’re getting hands on with one of the most poisonous
animals in the United States. And of course, I’m
talking about newts. (tribal drum beat) – [Voiceover] When most
people think of California, the imagery of sunshine and
beaches probably comes to mind. However, when it
comes to the forests of northern California, the sand is replaced
by enormous, prehistoric-looking trees, and the ocean’s mighty waves become an intricate maze
of babbling streams. San Mateo County boasts
some of the most beautiful and seriously epic forest-scapes
in the pacific northwest. And if you navigate your
way down into the ravines, you will find a
thriving ecosystem. So diverse that flipping
a single trailside rock may get you up close
with a stealthy predator. – [Coyote] Now what you’re
looking at right there is the forest scorpion. One of the most common
scorpion species that you’ll find here in the
forests of northern California. – [Voiceover] It seems
that no matter where I go, the scorpions are
right there with me. But not everything in the
forest is equipped with pinchers and a venom-injecting stinger. Flip over the right rock
and you might just find a cute little creature
that tops the charts as quite possibly the
most adorable amphibian in California. – [Coyote] Holy moly, look at that. – [Voiceover] Is that a newt? – [Coyote] Nope, that is not. That is actually a newt mimic. It is an ensatina. – [Voiceover] You can see
how it looks like a newt, with the dark upper body
and the orange underside. Also poisonous. And if you handle this
little amphibian too much they will secrete a white
poison from their skin. But look how cute
that little guy is. Just another one of
the salamander species you can find here in the
forests of northern California. – [Coyote] Alright, let’s
put him back under his rock, and see if we can find
some of his bigger cousins. – [Voiceover] The forest
was alive with salamanders, and we were even lucky
enough to encounter the arboreal salamander, which is usually only
found high up in the trees. And the larva stage
of a giant salamander who was happily submerged and breathing with an
elaborate set of gills. – This terrain’s rather
difficult to navigate. I’m sure it’s not
easy for you, Mark. – [Mark] No. – Filming me as we’re walking. Every one of these rocks has these rounded edges. That’s what we call an
ankle-breaker right there. Alright, just watch your
step coming across here. (water splashes) – [Voiceover] However,
the real encounter we were looking to have was with one of the
most toxic amphibians in the United States, the California newt. And as we quickly
navigated downstream, we eventually came
upon a pocket of water that was absolutely
swimming with them. – [Coyote] Holy cow,
look at ’em all, there must be 40 or
50 of them in there. Okay, this looks like
the perfect opportunity for me to get some of these
toxic little amphibians up close to the camera. Alright, now the reason
that I’m taking off my boots is so that I don’t accidentally
step on one of these fragile little amphibians. Whoa, that water is cold. Wow, they are quick, and they are swimming all over. Wow, look at that, I’m
kind of herding them all in one direction. As soon as you get close,
they dart off to the corners to get under the rocks. Got ya! Oh, here’s a big one over here. Ready, one, two, three. Got it! There we go. Here we go, coming
right towards you. Four. Five. I think that’s probably enough to get up close for the cameras. Alright, let’s get
up here on shore and take a closer look. Ooh, that water is
absolutely freezing. Look at that, how adorable are
those little newts? They’re a lot stronger
than you would think. There we go. That’s what we call a
handful of newt right there. I got them all calmed down now. And if you take a
real good look there, the top of their body is
very dark in coloration, and also rough. That helps them stay camouflaged
in this forest environment. Now, the California newt goes
through multiple life stages, from egg to larva
to adult stage. And these ones right here
are in their adult stage, living a mostly aquatic life. Now, they do breathe air, and we’ve seen them
coming up to the surface, taking a gulp, and
then diving back down. They can stay underwater for
a considerable amount of time, but, like all animals
that breathe air, they have to come out of
the water at some point. Now, at the beginning
of the episode, I told you that I
was gonna be handling one of the most poisonous
animals in the United States, which, in fact, these newts are. However, I don’t have to
worry about that poison by just handling them. I’d actually have to physically
eat one of these newts for it to cause me any harm. Now, scientists
have done research and found that
just a single newt contains enough neurotoxin
to kill almost 1500 lab rats. That’s insane how toxic
these little guys are. Now, let’s say a predator
comes into this environment and doesn’t know any better
when it comes to eating newts. If this newt feels
extremely threatened, what it will do is actually
turn its head up in the air to expose its chin, and they will bend
their tail to expose this bright orange
coloration on the underside. Now, most animals
that are poisonous have some sort of
bright coloration to warn predators,
“Don’t eat me, ’cause if you do, it may be
the last meal you ever have.” Hiking throughout the
course of the day, I’ve literally seen hundreds
of these California newts. Just in this pocket of
water alone, easily over 50, which tells me two things. One, that this ecosystem
is incredibly healthy. And two, that the California
newt is certainly thriving here on the west coast. I’m Coyote Peterson, be brave, stay wild, we’ll see you on
the next adventure. – [Voiceover] I can
never recommend getting hands on with any
poisonous plant or animal. However, if you do head out to the forests of
northern California, capture, and handle a newt, just make sure to wash
your hands soon after. As long as you
don’t eat any newts, you’ll be just fine. If you thought that
was one wild adventure, check out the time
I got into a pinch with another west
coast creature, the purple shore crab. And don’t forget, subscribe so you can
join me and the crew on this season of
Breaking Trail.

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