Dog detectives keep Harry Stoke newts safe ahead of pipe-laying works

Photo of a newt in long grass with a dog standing in the background.
Newt dog ‘Newky’ detecting a newt.

Wessex Water’s very own paw patrol detected 86 precious newts in Harry Stoke before new pipes were laid underground.

Springer spaniel Freya and springer-cocker Newky (pictured above) sniffed out the amphibians, which were safely relocated under licence by Natural England prior to work starting on the scheme.

Kitchen & Laundry Appliance Care.

Owned and trained by Wessex Water ecologist Nikki Glover, the dogs not only bring conservation benefits but minimise costly delays on building projects by spotting newts much quicker than humans using traditional trapping methods.

Research by Nikki, a PhD student at Salford University, has shown that dogs can detect great crested newts from a distance of up to two metres away and 20cm below ground.


When Freya or Newky locate a newt, they signal non-invasively by lying or sitting down. The nocturnal creatures are often found seeking refuge in stone walls, log piles or cracks in the ground during the daytime.

Thanks to the dogs, Wessex Water has not used pitfall traps (buckets sunk into the ground) on a scheme since 2021. This has massively reduced the amount of time and tools required to relocate newts, as well as saving on plastic and other single-use materials.

Related link: Teaching a talented dog newt tricks (Wessex Water)

Share this page:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *