Frog off!

February 2019 was the hottest since records began, and, with the warm weather came the first signs of spring - flowers, bird song and frogs and tadpoles in the region’s ponds.
Frogs at Saint Nicholas Park by Becky Johnson

Image by: Becky Johnson

It is also time for Northumberland Wildlife Trust to issue its annual plea for people to help prevent a conservation catastrophe occurring in the region’s ponds.

At the last count, around 75% of frogs now live in urban ponds in back gardens and local parks due to countryside and agricultural intensification such as the drying of wetlands, pond removal and reduction of grasslands which affects hibernation and removes vital cover for their survival.

People may think they are doing a good turn moving frogspawn from their own pond into other ponds, but this can lead to severe contamination and pose a threat to the frogs, toads and newts living in the area.

Frogs in particular are at risk from two deadly diseases; the first one chytrid fungus clogs their pores and, as they breathe through their skin, causes them to choke. This fungus has already been responsible for amphibian extinction in various parts of the world.

The second disease, which is commonly referred to as ‘red legs’ causes the skin to drop off frogs’ legs subjecting them to a very slow and painful death. This condition is incurable and is on the increase in various parts of the UK.

Equally as distressing, this year, the wildlife charity has had a number of reports of children removing frogs and frogspawn from the ponds at its St Nicholas Park reserves in Gosforth and throwing them at each other.

Mike Pratt, Northumberland Wildlife Trust Chief Executive is calling on to people to leave frogs where they belong, he says: “Frogs are great to watch, but people need to remember they are wild creatures and should be left in their native environment as moving them cause’s distress. Likewise, when it comes to excessive frog spawn in ponds, our message is clear - leave it where it is and let nature sort it out.”