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Donny
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Posted: 30 Jul 2004 Topic: Palmate or Smooth?



Sorry, no pics...just something I have wondered about for a long time. It is said that it is difficult to distinguish between females of the above mentioned species, but I have never found this to be the case. Where I live, Smooth newts have orange bellies with large spots, and Palmates have yellow bellies with none or a very few small spots..in addition, Palmate Newts here are always lighter coloured...maybe it's just my local population...any of you experts have trouble telling between the two?




Donny
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Posted: 02 Nov 2004 Topic: Mating Frogs 30th October



For what it's worth, I have heard/read many times that Common Frogs regularly spawn in Autumn/Early Winter in the South West of England.Donny38293.3432175926


Donny
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Posted: 11 May 2004 Topic: Acid water = stunted tadpoles?



Hi! 

 At the weekend, I was out walking and I crossed over a piece of land that until three or four years ago, was a pine forest plantation.  It has since been cleared, and I saw that many of the wheel ruts and depressions created by the vehicles during clearance have filled with water and are now teeming with wildlife, including tadpoles, which I assume are Common Frog, given pool size and my location (Eastern Scotland)...only thing is, all of the tadpoles are absolutely tiny, like newly hatched size, only much more lively. I even found some intact, obviously infertile spawn, and this is early May!  Tadpoles in ponds just a short distance away are big and fat already. There is no remaining shade and the pools are all shallow and warm. 

 Could this be due to the acidity in the soil?  These taddies are seriously stunted compared to their neighbours, and if this is the case, I wonder why frogs would choose to breed in such a location at all..I worry about them growing enough to metamorphose this year. 

 So are these taddies getting pickled or what's going on?

Donny38118.7931944444


Donny
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Posted: 15 May 2004 Topic: Acid water = stunted tadpoles?



Thanks for the replies...I thought maybe the years of pine needle build up might have made the soil too acid, but i suppose there are several factors to coinsider.

  Your story about the alleged 'Bullfrog' tadpoles reminds me of some HUGE Common Frog tadpoles and froglets i saw once in and around a drainage ditch that had also used as a dump for horse stable sweepings and dung...I think they must have been benefiting from the extra 'nutrition'!




Donny
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Posted: 28 May 2004 Topic: Fire-bellied toad?



Oriental Fire Bellied Toads are found in Korea, North Eastern Russia and North East China...that's Siberian winters we're talking about...I am guessing British winters are fairly mild in comparison!




Donny
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Posted: 02 Jun 2004 Topic: Natterjack Toad



Ummm...so is this a wind up then?




Donny
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Posted: 09 Jun 2004 Topic: And theyore off



Funny how you get such variation in size.  I had just two clumps of spawn this year, but I have all sizes of taddies from big fatties with well developed hind-legs to tiny little squirts.


Donny
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Posted: 09 Jun 2004 Topic: Blanket Weed Problem?



I have only found blanket weed to be a problem in the first year or so of a new pond, when the other plants have yet to establish themselves....if you just leave things to look after themselves, ponds tend to reach an equilibrium of their own, or at least that is my experience.

Donny38147.5877893519


Donny
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Posted: 17 Jun 2004 Topic: What do froglets eat?



Half of our garden pond backs on to an overgrown rockery...the other half onto a large, bare, paved area. Today I found my first froglet, not taking the easy, sloping route out of the back of the pond and into cover, but instead struggling out at the other side onto the bare concrete...hope too many more aren't as dumb as him!


Donny
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Posted: 17 Jun 2004 Topic: Strange dead reptile - Scotland



As we all know, Scotland is in fact home to one of the UK's, if not the world's, rarest reptiles....So, did your lizard look anything like this?

Donny38155.7644212963


Donny
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Posted: 23 Jun 2004 Topic: All getting ready to leave!



I visited one of my favourite ponds the other day, and the ground around the edge was like a moving carpet of toadlets...just waves of them leaving the water...quite an amazing site really, but what happens to all the little blighters?


Donny
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Posted: 10 Aug 2004 Topic: strange habitat



Hey there, that is quite an interesting story. It is my guess that the frogs and toads have either fallen in from above, or found their way in through cracks as tiny froglets and toadlets and then grown too large too escape.  Frogs are not too fussy where they spawn, but I would say that if they lay their eggs in a 'dish' of water, then they are probably trapped and have no other choice.

  Frogs and toads have a particular skill for falling down steep sided holes. When I was a kid I used to regularly make the rounds of several drains and cattle grids looking for captives...they don't drown, and can eat the many insects which also fall in, and so they can live a long time in such inhospitable habitats...




Donny
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Posted: 10 Aug 2004 Topic: What about the weather!



A lot of my Froglets seem to have been hanging around the area near the pond for the past few weeks, but with the heavy rain they can now be seen making a break for it into next door gardens and beyond...including one determined little guy who had climed the front step and was a few hops away from being in the house!


Donny
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Posted: 17 Aug 2004 Topic: strange habitat



 "The frogs look like common frogs, but some of them appear very skinny, with pronounced hip-bones(?), hollow sides..."

"I don't think they are starving. They look healthy and are pretty active..."

Well, you cant have it both ways! The first description does make it sound like they are unhealthy and starving....

 




Donny
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Posted: 18 Aug 2004 Topic: strange habitat



Oh, I see what you mean. Yes, toads tend to be plumper than frogs, and they will hop short distances too.

It sounds like the ideal solution (if possible) would be to build a pond in your garden, and provide some cover...such as an area of longer grass, a pile of logs, a rockery etc. Although, it would have to be quite a large pond to encourage the toads to breed, frogs are happy with quite small ponds. You would probably still have to release any froglets outside your garden to prevent overcrowding though.




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Posted: 18 Aug 2004 Topic: Froglets in your house?



Haha...anyone else have this problem?..we had two today after heavy rain (one was well inside the house) because we often leave the back door open a crack for the cats to come and go, and the froggies get in too. What are they attracted to? Warmth? light?


Donny
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Posted: 20 Aug 2004 Topic: Froglets in your house?



I am pretty sure they found their own way in, as they were both alive and kicking...didn't look like the cats had had a go at them. I know what you mean tho...one of ours is a specialist at killing butterflies...strangest one was a live mole running about the house.




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Posted: 28 Dec 2004 Topic: scotland



Same here. Plenty of amphibians, even Great Crested Newts, but I have yet to see a reptile on Scottish soil. This despite the fact that as a child I lifted up every log and piece of scrap metal everywhere I went...come to think of it, I am pretty much still doing that today!
I think there must be pockets where Common Lizards, Adders are common, but distribution is definitely very patchy.


Donny
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Posted: 05 May 2005 Topic: Exploding Toads in Germany



Well, just to add to the anecdotes:

I had some Xenopus that within a week or so all swelled up massively one after the other and died - didn't explode though.

Also observed a female palmate newt in our garden pond who was very swollen - not just with eggs, she looked like if you stuck a pin in her, she would burst.  She was so fat she couldn't walk on land and lived in the pond like that  - even overwintering - for about a year before dissapearing.

???




Donny
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Posted: 12 May 2005 Topic: scotland



I think the point being made is that Scotland's cool wet summers are what prevent Grass snakes from spreading further north, rather than the relatively mild winters. A lot of warmth loving species can survive bitterly cold winters if they are counterpointed by long hot summers - like in parts of scandinavia, for example, where several species extend further north in their range than they do in the UK.

Take a look at this map I found showing average UK July temp's:

Average July Temperatures

Cumbria is right on the edge of the warmer yellow/cooler green area, which might explain why it is the usual northern limit for Grass Snakes in this country.Donny38484.2486805556


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