23 December 2010

Pond advice for icy weather

As Arctic conditions continue to sweep the country Froglife is reminding pond owners to be aware of hibernating frogs.

Some common frogs choose to spend the winter at the bottom of ponds. Buried down amongst the mud and silt, they survive by breathing through their skin. When ice forms on a pond the frogs become trapped with limited oxygen and various noxious gases building up.

In the past, Froglife has always recommended that a hole is maintained in the ice but recent reports suggest this may not make any difference to the frogs’ survival. Instead, the most important thing is to make sure snow is cleared from the ice to allow light to access the water. This way plants will still be able to produce enough oxygen. If you have a pump, leaving this running throughout the winter can also help.

If you do decide to try and make a hole in the ice – to release the build up gases (it won’t make much difference to the oxygen content in the water) – the easiest way to do this is to leave something floating in the water which can be removed once the ice as formed. Otherwise, stand a pan of hot water on top of the ice to melt a hole. Never pour on hot water, chemicals or salt or try to smash the ice as this can be damaging.

Despite your best efforts it may be that you still lose some frogs over this wintry period. You will see them floating under the ice or rising to the surface once the ice has melted. Although this is not nice to see, it is quite natural for frog populations to suffer losses at this time of year and it should not have too much overall impact.

“It’s normally older, male frogs that hibernate in water,” says Lucy Benyon, Froglife’s Information Officer, “The rest of the local frog population will be tucked up elsewhere – behind logs, in compost heaps or under sheds. It can be distressing to find dead frogs but it should not cause too many problems in the long term and, unfortunately, there’s virtually nothing you can do to prevent it.”

To help hibernating amphibians, and reptiles, in your garden in future ensure there are plenty of hidey holes such as log piles and rockeries. It’s also a good idea to give your pond a bit of a clear out in the autumn and stock up on oxygenating weed.

For further advice about amphibians, reptiles and ponds please see the Froglife website.

And remember... have a toad-ally awesome Christmas and a Hoppy Newt Year!

Please note: the Froglife office is closed over the Christmas period and will reopen on 5th January 2011.

22 December 2010

Terence, Tom, Tabasco, Teresa, Tamara, Tamsen.....? Don’t forget to add your suggestions for naming our toads!

If you need a break from all things Christmassy, don’t forget to enter our competition to name our cute toad characters. Wildlife presenter Mike Dilger will be picking his two favourites – a fun job as the suggestions so far have been adorable. The winners will receive a selection of wildlife themed goodies in a funky Froglife bag!

The deadline for entries is midnight on Christmas Eve – there’s a female toad and a male toad that need naming before they wake up from hibernation next year.

The toads will be helping us raise awareness for our Tuppence a Toad campaign, and highlighting the hard time that real common toads have crossing busy roads in spring to get back to their favourite ponds. We are busy collecting tuppences to help save more common toads and the ponds they depend on.

You can enter the competition on our website – www.froglife.org/tuppence/names.htm

20 December 2010

Good news for Toads in London

Work has started on Froglife’s exciting toad habitat project in London. Trent Park’s resident population of toads in Cockfosters will have cause to celebrate in the New Year after their habitat makeover.

When the toads wake up from their winter hibernation, they will find their long-standing migratory breeding pond sunnier and easier to access, as well as two new wildlife ponds.
The small amphibians have been using the 413 acre Trent Country Park to breed, forage and hibernate for many generations. A road cutting through the site means many of the amphibians don’t make it to the pond safely. In February 2010 a Toad Patrol crossing was set up with volunteers to help the toads every spring.

Toad patrol volunteers operate across the UK, but there are only four active toad crossings known in London, each of which is vital for the city’s toad population. Recent research suggests that toads have declined by 50% or more in central and eastern/south-eastern regions in Britain, making every step to help them of key importance.

The Trent Park project was made possible with help from £23,000 from SITA Trust and Enfield Council and is part of Froglife’s national Tuppence a Toad campaign. Froglife aims to raise funds and awareness about the plight of the UK’s common toads. You can help by collecting your small change for small toads, doing a sponsored swim or buying toad goodies from our online shop! You can find out more about the campaign here.