A newt is a type of salamander, meaning its skin is thin, and it breathes through gills until its lungs grow and it can leave the water.
Newts are lizard-like, sporting a tail and four legs. Their legs, like those of many other salamanders, are weak in comparison to those of lizards, and are better equipped for aquatic than land locomotion.
The biggest difference between newts and salamanders is that adult newts have flatter tails than salamanders. This isn’t a big difference, we know, but it will have to do.
When a newt, equipped with a working set of lungs, finally leaves the water for a life on land, it’s then called an eft. From then on, it will return to the water only to mate. Adult newts are brightly colored and are poisonous to predators.
We can only guess that this is why “eye of newt” is part of the witches’ recipe in act IV of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble”.