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Newt Mating Season Begins At Tilden Park

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- The annual mating dance of the newts has begun at Tilden Park.

The seasonal migration of the California newt kicked off October 31, prompting closures and restrictions for bikers and dog-owners who frequent the area.

East Bay Regional Park officials have closed South Park Drive to traffic to protect the newts during their migration trek to Wildcat Creek, where they breed in the water. The roadway reopens March 31, 2017.

Bikers are asked to slow down and avoid the little amphibians as they cross the roads. Dogs are allowed off-leash, but must be under voice control. Owners must carry a leash.

The California newt is not really a lizard. It belongs to the salamander family. They grow to five or six inches long and look like a cross between a frog and a lizard. Newly hatched eggs look like striped tadpoles, with little gills.

Adult newts spend the summer hibernating in dry sheltered places, waiting for the rainy winter months to breed.

"They respond to the moisture level in the air," says Naturalist Trent Pearce. "They come out after the rains, and even after heavy fog."

The South Park Drive to accommodate the little critters for the past 20 years. Newts are not endangered, but their numbers have dwindled, due to road kill.

Park officials ask the public not to try and catch them because newts do not make good pets.

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