The great crested new t(Triturus cristatus) is the largest native newt species, which grows up to 14 cm (male) or 18 cm (female). The yellow-orange belly, which is usually covered with large black spots, stands out clearly from the olive to black-brown body. The male, unlike the female, carries a crest on its back. This serrated crest is more pronounced during mating season and is interrupted only at the root of the tail. Because of the large comb, this newt species is also called the water dragon.
The mating and spawning season of the great crested newt is between mid-March and the end of April and depends on the temperature. For a migration to the spawning waters to take place, a temperature of at least 5 °C and a longer rainy period are necessary. For this reason, the mating and spawning season may be delayed. During the spawning season, water dragons are in permanently stagnant waters that have developed lush vegetation. On land, they prefer grassy areas, wet meadows, deciduous and riparian forests.
Due to habitat destruction and fragmentation as well as fish stocking, the great crested newt is endangered throughout Europe. It is considered a highly endangered species in Austria and is one of the protected species of the Tyrolean Nature Conservation Ordinance 2006 and the Flora-Fauna-Habitat Directive of the European Union.
The Tyrolean Lech Nature Park is home to the only crested newt occurrence in Tyrol. At a pond in the lower Lech Valley, the great crested newt shares a habitat with two other newt species - the pond newt(Triturus vulgaris) and the mountain newt(Triturus alpestris).