Wildlife to see in February – Toads, Frogs and Newts
We have seven different native amphibians in the UK: Common Toad, Common Frog, Smooth Newt, Palmate Newt, Great Crested Newt, Natterjack Toad and the recently reintroduced Pool Frog. The reason we have all these amphibians in East Anglia is because when Great Britain was connected to the continent via land bridges, animals could come here first before moving into the rest of the land. Also, the glaciers in the last ice age (about 25,000 years ago) formed lots of ‘pingo’ ponds, which we still have in this area, and these special ponds are perfect for amphibians.
Amphibians need to migrate from land habitats to pond habitats to survive and they start to do this about now. Newts can travel up to 500m, whereas toads may travel up to 2 km. That means that if you have ponds in your area then the land habitat around these ponds needs to be maintained with these lovely creatures in mind. A good rule of thumb is to have a ratio of 1:10 area around a pond of good terrestrial habitat e.g. If a pond is 2m2, amphibians will need 20m2 of suitable land around it to be successful.
Unfortunately, amphibian populations are in decline because of habitat loss and habitat fragmentation. The charity Froglife has stated that the Common Toad has decreased by 68% in the last 30 years and it may become extinct if we don’t do something to help them. The building of roads in our parishes creates fragmentation of water and terrestrial habitats, so as connectivity for humans improves, the connectivity for wildlife decreases. Froglife says that up to 20 tonnes of toads are killed on our roads every year: that’s the equivalent of 3 adult elephants!
What you can do to help amphibians:
1.Toads on Roads - is a citizen conservation scheme, run by Froglife, that involves people collecting toads in a bucket and carrying them across the road safely. If you would like to get involved, please visit their website:https://www.froglife.org/what-we-do/toads-on-roads/
2. Sign a Petition - Encourage people to sign Froglife’s Petition on Wildlife Tunnels, it’s free to do so and if enough people sign, it will be discussed in parliament:
3. Protect & create ponds - Look after your ponds in a wildlife friendly was, as well as creating new ones: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/actions/how-build-pond
4. Wildlife Tunnels - If new roads are being built, we should consider Wildlife Tunnels. These tunnels are built into our roads and they allow many small animals to cross safely. They are easy and relatively affordable to install and are being used all over the world and the UK to help prevent animal deaths: https://www.aco.co.uk/products/climate-tunnel