31 January 2012

Have I Got Newts For You - January News

Your monthly round up of reptile and amphibian news from around the world, spotted by Froglife’s Conservation Communication Officer Lucy Benyon.

World’s deadliest frog finally protected
The World Land Trust is kicking off 2012 in style by helping create the first nature reserve to protect the world’s most poisonous vertebrate. The golden poison frog Phyllobates terribilis is relatively large compared to other poison dart frogs and even though its skin contains only 1mg of toxin, this is enough to kill 10 humans. This tiny but toxic frog lives in Columbia’s tropical rainforest but destruction of this habitat has left the species vulnerable. The new 124 acre Rana Terribilis Amphibian Reserve will help ensure the survival of this powerfully poisonous amphibian.
Source: World Land Trust

Weird and wonderful new species
What do cowboys have in common with 80s arcade classic Pac-Man? Well they both give their name to new species of amphibian discovered in Suriname. The cowboy frog, named for the spur on its heel, and the pac-man frog (check out the photo and you’ll see why!) are two of 46 potentially new species recorded during a number of intensive month-long expeditions to the tiny South American country. New reptiles were also discovered, including the turnip-tailed gecko.
Source: National Geographic Daily News

Warmer nests make for smarter lizards
New research by Australian scientists suggests that lizards hatching from warmer nests are quicker at learning things than their counterparts from cooler nests. It has already been established that temperature impacts on the lizards’ size and sex but this new research highlights how it also affects their brains. Data from the past 16 years shows that lizard nest temperatures have been rising, probably due to climate change.
Source: ABC Sydney

First airborne amphibian pheromones discovered
Frogs use a number of ways to communicate from the obvious – croaking! – to the less noticeable - pheromones. For years scientists have known that amphibians use water-borne pheromones to communicate with each other but a recent study has shown they also use airborne chemicals. It’s thought these odours may help frogs find a potential mate when numerous unique croakings from around the swamp make it difficult to find their own species.
Source: Chemical & Engineering News

Slumbering snakes will survive thanks to unusual habitat
Nearly 200 garter, brown and western fox snakes got a rude awakening when construction workers started repairing a railway line in Lake County, Illinois. The hibernating reptiles would not have been able to cope with the wintery weather but fortunately two snake-loving biologists and a schoolteacher stepped in to save the day. The snakes are now being housed, rather unusually, in a six foot wine chiller. This will keep them in a state of hibernation until they’re ready to be released later in the year.
Source: Chicago Tribune

You can find out more about amphibians and reptiles and what you can do to help them at the Froglife website here.

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