|Nellie the Newt - a rare wildlife casualty brought to the centre.|
- Male frogs often lie dormant at the bottom of ponds during winter, they’re prone to dying when the ponds freeze over. This is a relatively common phenomena called ‘winterkill‘, but is more likely to occur this year due to the severity of the freezing weather.
- Frogs slow down their metabolism when lying dormant, and breathe through their skin. Plants in the pond produce oxygen through photosynthesis and this process is still possible even if a pond is covered in ice. So they (the Frogs) can still survive if the pond freezes over. However, lots of leaf litter in a pond produces and releases noxious gases as it decomposes thus starving the pond of oxygen and killing the Frogs. Also should snow cover the pond, it prevents the plants from photosynthesising, gases can again build up in the pond with the same result.
This site is a hive of information, not only on amphibians but also reptiles in the UK and a must resource for anyone involved in Wildlife Rescue, Wildlife Conservation or anyone wanting to set up and maintain a pond in their garden. Below you'll find what ARC suggests we should do with frozen ponds to help amphibians survive the winter months:
- Make a hole in the ice by leaving a pan of hot water on the surface, allowing the base of the pan to melt a hole.
- Leave a plastic ball in the hole overnight, and remove it the following morning when the pond surface has refrozen. This enables noxious gases to leave the pond.
- ARC also warns against smashing, or pouring hot water on the ice, or adding chemicals (particularly salt). All of these methods can cause serious damage to pond life
I hope that someone reading this finds it useful, can put the knowledge you may gain into practice and hopefully go on to helping another beautiful creature.
The ARC website is a terrific site with so much information about Amphibians and Reptiles, I've learnt loads from it; did you know we have 7 species of Amphibian native to this country or that Leatherback Turtles are regarded as native to British waters?
They also have some useful downloads like this snake identification chart -