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Scotland's rarest and biggest newt is the well-named great crested newt. An adult can stretch to the length of an adult's hand, making it unmistakeable if you find it in your pond.

In recent years, this species has seen dramatic declines in its numbers and distribution as its ponds have been infilled, polluted or had fish introduced (which eat the newt eggs and larvae). Meanwhile, the land around ponds, where the newts feed and hibernate, has been lost to development, intensive agriculture and busy roads. The species and its habitat are now fully protected by both European and UK law.

NTS supports great crested newts at only two of its properties; Culzean and the Pineapple. At both properties, we are doing much to try to conserve the species, with much help from partners like Scottish Natural Heritage, Falkirk Environment Trust and Falkirk Council.

At Culzean, 3 new ponds have been created beside the existing population and early signs are that the animals have moved into their new homes.

At the Pineapple, a major project is about to take place between 2011 and 2013 to remove thick vegetation from the old curling pond and vastly improve the place for the resident great crested newts. New interpretation, paths and platforms will be created to allow visitors to appreciate the setting and the newts!

In both properties, we are hopeful that this work will see large increases in the populations of great crested newts in the coming years.

Scientific monitoring has been ongoing for a number of years at both properties and will continue in the long-term. This data is vital to help the conservation of this species.