5 May 2011

Warm Weather Frog Watch

With the weather getting warmer, it’s getting to the time of year when teams at Froglife and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are keeping an eye out for diseases posing a potential threat to frogs. Nicknamed ‘red leg’ for the affect it can have on frogs, Ranavirus can affect the animals by causing ulcers and haemorrhaging, and has been a major problem for amphibian species across the globe.

In the UK, Froglife is working with ZSL on the Frog Mortality Project to investigate the causes of this horrible disease and how it can affect populations of frogs.

So far, research through the Frog Mortality Project has identified Ranavirus as the cause of mass frog deaths that started to be reported in the 1990s. Frog populations may be eliminated by the virus, whilst others may suffer recurrent infections from one year to the next and others still seem to recover without further outbreaks following an initial die-off.

This summer we are calling on members of the public to help develop our knowledge further, and help us protect frogs into the future.

There are a number of things to look out for:

• Keep an eye out for unusual frog deaths – they are often killed by other animals or through accidents, but the thing to watch for is large numbers of dead frogs discovered at the same time.
• The frogs might look emaciated or lethargic.
• They may be suffering from ulcers or bleeding.

Anyone concerned about the frogs in their pond can get in touch with Froglife for advice, and if it is a suspected Ranavirus case Stephen Price from ZSL can visit to collect samples for further investigation and ongoing research. Stephen is undertaking frog post mortems to help with his research as part of the ongoing Frog Mortality Project. This will hopefully help us to determine what is happening to frogs, how and how far the disease has spread, and what it means for frog populations in the long term.

You can find out more about our work on amphibian diseases here

You can let Froglife know if you are concerned about frogs by getting in touch info@froglife.org 01733 558844 or by submitting a form online here

You can donate to support our work protecting frogs here

Thank you!

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