Frogs in Madagascar

Having completed my Diploma in Mauritius, I decided to go for a trip to Madagascar before returning to the UK. I spent 3 weeks travelling up the ‘backbone’ of the country North to South, visiting many National and Community Nature Reserves.

Mantella baroni (c) George Sayer

Mantella baroni (c) George Sayer

Madagascar is a place of unbelievable diversity and endemicity, but under immense pressure from a large population heavily reliant on the land. I thought I would introduce some of the frog species I encountered there. Madagascar is a hotspot for frog diversity – it is thought to have over 300 species (266 currently described), of which 99% are endemic.

Mantella madagasariensis (c) George Sayer

The amphibian highlights of the trip were finding these Mantella baroni and Mantella madagascariensis on a rainforest riverbank. Whilst the former is still widespread the latter is decreasing and classed as vulnerable.

The following Images highlight just a few other frogs I saw on the trip.



Real Resources


Dmitri Logunov, Curator of Arthropods, Manchester Museum

Apart from the vivarium’s collection of live animals being an important educational and research resource of Manchester Museum we also have a wealth of other unique natural history material available to support learning. We have some of the countries top professional curators who specialise in nature – particularly Zoology, Botany, and Entomology, the collections which they curate being of utmost international importance.

I raise a glass to my fellow Curators at Manchester Museum, all proud of working here in their own way, of their wonderful collections, and of all we are jointly trying to achieve – creating inspiration, questioning, and a wonderment of life on earth!

Herbology Manchester       Entomology Manchester          Nature Manchester

Special Sessions

Unknown-5The myriad of engagement activities our live collection facilitates is fundamental to the work being achieved by the Vivarium. From use with our Baby Explorer sessions for tiny tots, to supporting undergraduate and PhD student projects, our live collection supports a huge variety of activities.

All the team here contribute to the delivery of sessions, and recently that has included Matt delivering hands-on sessions in a special early opening programme that allows people with autism, including children, to get up close and personal with our animals – before the museum even opens!

Adam also frequently delivers hands-on animal sessions to young children as part of their Animal Explorer visit and our newly developed Habitat Explorer sessions. Both Adam and Matt do a fantastic job, and the utmost of care is taken to accommodate all the children’s and animal’s needs and safety.

Unknown-3Very close to my heart are the special sessions we offer for children and young people with severe learning difficulties. On Friday we had such a visit from 9 super pupils from Park Lane School who also had additional physical, sensory and medical difficulties. It was sheer joy for me to meet and welcome them all to the museum and very special for me to run the  session.

It provided a wonderful experience for all involved, including the support staff and teachers who were amazing. Having just received an email of thanks with some of the pictures taken during the session I am able to share, it really makes me proud of the difference being made and all being delivered from the Vivarium, the Museum, the University of Manchester.

This Tuesday we deliver another specialist session for a different school and look forward to that visit very much. We run these session free of charge and make time to accommodate all related enquiries and bookings wherever possible:


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Special Sessions   Park Lane School   Museum – Learning  Social Responsibility 

Kwabs, Manchester Academy

UnknownManchester Academy, the University of Manchester Students’ Union’s arena for hosting concerts in Manchester, has 4 separate venues and over the years has had countless up and coming bands preview there. The list of these is endless, but this week Tara and I witnessed Kwabs performing an intimate gig down in the Academy’s basement. His performance was amazing. We watched him last time he performed in Manchester, at Gorilla, but this time we were literally feet away from this highly talented rising star. His new album, ‘Love and War’ is out now. If you haven’t heard of him, guaranteed you soon will!


Kwabs Music               Manchester Academy           Students Union

SciBar Success


Matthew O’Donnell presenting “Frogs leaping towards extinction”

Last night was one of my first experiences representing the Vivarium in a public speaking role outside of the Museum, and what an occasion it was. The Bollington SciBar is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in science in a comfortable and friendly environment, the perfect place to talk about our work!

I have to say the crowd were fantastic and asked some well thought out and challenging questions, like which are tougher.. Northern or Southern frogs?! So thank you for turning up and making the event so successful.

I have to say a big thank you to Tom who came along to help me out with the frogs and questions, also to all those who helped organise such a fantastic evening.

Next time I’m in Bollington I will be sure to sample some of the fine ales available at the Vale Inn, what a fantastic venue.

SciBar Talk!


This coming Monday night (12th October) Matt will be representing us and giving a special talk at Bollington Scibar, supported by the British Science Association. His talk will focus on our amphibian conservation efforts through research and he will also be taking some very cool frogs along with him from our collection. So, If you fancy hearing some new frog facts along with a good pint why not hop along and join him at the Vale Inn, Bollington – an award-winning pub with its very own micro brewery!


Skye Serpentarium

54913 HLSKYSD11.jpg[ProductMain]Its quite a few years since I visited my friends Catherine and Alex Shearer at the Serpentarium on the beautiful isle of Skye, but this week I caught up with both of them. The Skye Serpentarium was first as opened in 1991 by Catherine and Alex as a wonderful exhibition and educational centre.

Its a super place and somewhere they have developed and updated over the years as their collection grew. Over the past 25 year they have also worked tirelessly to care for abandoned or rescued reptiles and amphibians that have been passed onto them by customs and others. With their dedication to provide proper care, and through the help of sponsors and donations, over the years they have done a truly amazing job in supporting the lives of between 500-600 animals, with many being featured on display in the Serpentarium at any one time.

interior-450Sadly, but understandably after all this time, Catherine and Alex have now decided it is time for them to close the Serpentarium. As such it will officially close its doors on the 24th October, 2015. However, Although the public side of the Serpentarium will end, their care for animals they feel they will still be able to personally look after will continue.

These include rescued Iguanas and royal pythons brought back from the very brink of death by them after being customs seizures as far back as 1993. Sponsorship is still urgently required, and donations needed, to support their continued efforts, so for anyone wishing to make a donation or offer support please contact Catherine or Alex directly at:

Skye Serpentarium


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