Palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus) Formerly (Triturus Helveticus) Controlled Environment. Sitting On surface. Lancashire, UK Palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus) Formerly (Triturus Helveticus) Controlled Environment. Sitting supported by vegetation the palmate newt is the smallest British amphibian. Newts breath air so need to come up for a breath, However they do start life as larva with a set of gills. Palmate newts are very similar in general habits and behaviour to smooth newts. The two light spots on the top of the head are vegetation. They are crepuscular, with activity peaking at dusk and dawn. This secretive newt spends most of the day in thick aquatic vegetation, coming out into open water only after dark Sale or commercial exchange of palmate newts is prohibited in Britain by the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.