Up to 17 centimetres long, with rough skin, the crested newt varies in colour from greyish-black to brownish-oil green above, while its underside is bright orange with numerous dark spots. During the breeding season, the male becomes brightly coloured with two saw-toothed crests, one on the tail and the other on the body.
Living in freshwater ponds, the crested newt can be found throughout most of Europe.
When swimming, the crested newt pulls its legs in close to its body and uses its tail. Its lungs have a small volume, causing it to sink when it stops swimming. Like all amphibians, it breathes through its skin. Adults hibernate in the mud at the bottom of a pond, and young on land near water. It feeds on tadpoles, water snails, worms, insects, young frogs and insect larvae.