As the summer winds down, now is a good time to think about winter shelter for the UK’s amphibians, say Froglife.
We’re suggesting three tips to give your frogs, toads and newts a fighting chance in the coming months…
1. Mess is more: don’t do your spring cleaning in autumn. Leaving an area of your garden slightly messy benefits an array of wildlife. Amphibians like to lie under patio slabs, under piles of rubble, compost bags or under wood-piles. Shaded areas, which don’t dry out too much, are best.
2. Don’t let your pond ice over: Common frogs often overwinter on the pond bottom, lying largely still but occasionally moving on warmer days. When the cold weather hits, make sure your ponds do not retain a layer of ice for too long – this can kill resting frogs. One solution is to leave a ball floating on the pond before the cold weather hits. When the ice layer has formed remove the ball leaving a hole through which pond gases can move. Never try and smash the ice.
3. Go pro: some people build specific habitat features (called hibernacula) for amphibians to see out the winter months. These can be a mixture of dead wood, rocks and bricks, all loosely filled with topsoil. Many are sited within a shallow excavation too. This approach can work very well (and offers good overwintering habitat for other species), but beware of flooding on clay or other slow-draining soils. The nearer the pond the better. For more information on hibernacula visit: www.froglife.org/GCNCH/7.pdf
In the UK, pond losses in the wider countryside have reduced the number of viable amphibian habitats. In some areas gardens can help buffer these losses, benefiting local amphibians (and the wider food chain) enormously.
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Froglife - http://www.froglife.org/
Froglife is a UK wildlife charity committed to the conservation of amphibians and reptiles - working with people, enhancing lives togetherfor a healthier planet.