14 December 2012

Last Minute Christmas Shopping!

This weekend is your last chance to order from the Froglife shop in time for Christmas.  Our last orders to be delivered before the big day need to be with us by midnight on Sunday 16th December. If you are looking for something unusual or an ethical gift, why not have a peekhere?

Here are some ideas

99p Toads onRoads Button Badge – show your support for the hard working Toad Patrollers, and help Froglife’s valuable work coordinating this amazing project which rescues over 60,000 toads a year. Get your's here

£3 Frog greetings cards pack – designed by illustrator Hannah Thomson, this pack contains 6 greetings cards suitable for valentines, birthdays and other occasions.  Perfect for the frog lover! - Limited stocks.

If you're a toad lover the £4 Toad greeting cards pack is the one for you!

£10 VirtualGift: Fight for Frogs – Support our important conservation and education work and we will send your gift recipient will receive a copy of Froglife's newsletter 'Natterchat', a frog factsheet and a certificate of thanks.
Help us help these wonderful animals

£15 Studentexplorer pack – perfect for the budding herpetologist.  Packed with useful publications and books as well as some frog greetings cards to write home. Get your pack here.
The Student explorer pack

You can also support Froglife as you shop with other online stores through the super Give as You Live scheme.  By registering with this scheme, stores that have opted in will donate a percentage of your total bill to your chosen charity at no extra cost to you.  It’s really clever, and a really easy way to support charity.  You can find out more and sign up here.

Happy shopping!
Photographs by Froglife and Darren Bealing

13 December 2012

Business Generosity Helps Support Wildlife

Earlier in the year, Froglife was lucky enough to be supported by Animal Friends Insurance through their Facebook competition – a big thank you to everyone who voted for us enabling us to benefit from a £2,500 donation. 

Funds raised through the Animal Friends facebook page have
 helped amphibians and reptiles, like this slow worm

The competition was part of the insurance company’s amazing campaign to donate £1 million pounds to animal charities worldwide.  Fantastically, they have already exceeded their goal and donated over £1 million to charities who work towards better welfare for all the animals that have suffered from cruelty, neglect and suffering - including small local cat and dog homes as well as organisations that help local wildlife and critically endangered animals worldwide.

 “I am absolutely thrilled to have reached our £1 million target.” said Elaine Fairfax, Founder and MD of Animal Friends.  “We have been able to help so many really worthy causes, it’s been hugely rewarding for all of us. We could not have been able to reach the one million pound target helping animals along the way if it was not for our policy holders. We won’t stop there though; we will continue to strive to support as many charities as possible. ”

The money donated is generated by the people that take out policies with Animal Friends Insurance. It means every time someone takes out a policy they are donating to charity and helping other animals in need.  Every month there is a Facebook competition where people can vote for their favourite charity to receive a donation.  It’s a great example of a business working to help charities, and using social media for fundraising.

So, thank you Animal Friends, policy holders and voters, and here’s to more generous businesses following suite!

To find out more please visit the Animal Friends website

Photograph by Ash Jarvis

10 December 2012

Dragon of the Month: Smooth Snake

Every month in the Chinese Year of the Dragon, Froglife has been looking at different reptile species found around the UK.  This month, Sivi Sivanesan considers whether the Smooth Snake is the fairest of them all...
“Not recorded in Britain until the 1850’s, this species has always been rare in the British Isles – being much more commonly spread throughout Europe both in more northern (Sweden and Norway) and western (Spain and Portugal) countries as well as though central Europe.
The Smooth Snake is habitat specific – recorded in lowland heaths and the immediately adjacent habitats.  Historically these habitats were more common in southern Britain; but activities such as development and intensification of agricultural practices resulted in losses to both the habitat and the species that relied on them.
Currently populations are highly restricted to Dorset and Hampshire, with a few sites in Surrey, and Berkshire. Reintroduction programmes run by the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust (ARC-Trust), reintroduced smooth snakes to west Sussex and sites in Devon, Surrey and Hampshire where they had become extinct.

The rarest of our British Dragons is the Smooth Snake. Due to its rarity it is fully protected under UK and European law, protected against killing, injury, capture, disturb or selling this species or damaging or destroying its habitats.  To stand the best chance of seeing them, go out with a licensed expert and avoid unknowingly disturbing this brilliant species.   If you are lucky enough to live in counties that support them, look out for them in your travels – the fact file below will help you identify them.

Dragon Fact fileSmooth Snake

Coronella austriaca
A Smooth Snake basking in heathland
Its common name comes from the smooth feel of its scales which are un-keeled. Its scientific name Coronella comes from crown – due to the darker patterning on the crown of its head.

Adult length = 60cm.

Found only in lowland heath and immediate adjacent habitats in parts of southern Britain.

Classed as decreasing Globally, however listed as least concern globally due to its wide distribution at the European level.

Smooth snakes might get confused with Adders due to their patterning and location, here are a few handy comparisons to remember

Smooth snake

Pairs of irregular spots that often join together and become less distinct towards the end
Zig Zag pattern
Dark crown or heart shaped marking on crown of head
V shaped pattern on crown of head
Round pupils and distinctive eye strip on side of head
Vertical pupil (slit like)
Up to 55cm – adult length
Up to 55cm (male) up to 70cm – (female)
Restricted distribution to southern Britain
Wide spread distribution on mainland Britain
Extremely rare and localised and declining.
Rare and declining
Base colours under patters – steel-grey, ginger light brown or yellowish
Base colours vary from various shades of brown, grey, brick-red, purplish and black.
Smooth scales
Keeled scales 
Heart shaped mark on crown of head,round
 pupiles and paired markings
V shae on head, vertical slit-like pupil
zig zag markings
Smooth un-keeled scales
Keeled scales as seen on an adder
visable on this shed skin as a line across the
centre of each scale

Photos by Dr Silviu Petrovan, Matt Wilson and Laura Brady