Lucy’s post – why I want to be a zoologist when I grow up

Hi my name is Lucy. I am 9 years old and I love frogs! I started to love frogs after my visit to Manchester Museum in the amphibian section last summer. This is how it all started… Andrew gave us a guided tour of amphibians and reptiles. It was amazing, because I got to hold lots of different frogs and reptiles. The first one I held was an American toad, then I fed the toad a live cricket. The next frog I held was the prettiest thing I have ever seen! At first the Red Eyed Leaf Frog was asleep in a pretty weird shape.

Lucy making friends with her favourite frog

Me making friends with my favourite frog

When it hopped timidly onto my hand, I realized that frogs are not what I expected. I started to grow in confidence, when suddenly it jumped up my arm. I knew we were becoming friends. The next thing I knew I was holding a baby Python, although it didn’t bite! At first I was scared, but I learnt it wouldn’t bite me.

 

Andrew asked me if I wanted to feed a chameleon. I really was daring to do it, so I decided to have a go. He gave me a live locust and we went over to the vivarium and the chameleon ate it all up. Since then I have loved the facts and history of frogs and now I want to be a zoologist too and help to save frogs and other endangered animals like Andrew and his friends at Manchester University!

 

Taxing taxonomy

Darwin’s frog

Darwin’s frog, Rhinoderma darwinii (c) Claudio Soto (Kind courtesy of, especially for frogblogmanchester)

Identifying individual species, and even which genus or family they belong to, can sometimes be extremely taxing for even the most professional herpetologist. I bet when Darwin first discovered his famous mouth brooding frog in Chile he never dreamt it would eventually be split into two different species. Sometimes the slightest difference can indicate a separate species, and now that DNA research is helping us differentiate between species to a much higher degree it has opened up a whole new can of worms for those interested in following the ever changing amphibian taxonomy of today.

However, some individuals have dedicated much of their professional working life to helping us keep abreast of the latest status of our beloved creatures, and if it wasn’t for their dedicated efforts it would be very difficult for many of us to have any sort of handle on where everything is currently at. One such person who I have a great amount of admiration for is fellow Museum Curator of Herpetology, Darrel Frost at the AMNH.

Darrel created and manages Amphibian Species of the World, an online database listing all scientific and English names for more than 7,000 amphibian species. Whilst the database was designed for professional systematists, it gets more than a million visits a year from scientists, conservationists, and policymakers. Use of the database supports trade regulation of amphibian species and informs habitat conservation efforts around the world.

The amazing online database that catalogs every currently recognised amphibian species is available  HERE


ORIGAMI DARWINS FROG         AMNH         SHELF LIFE      TURTLES & TAXONOMY

Solving a Mystery

Young or old, everybody loves a mystery – and everybody enjoys solving one..

Just this week I had a gentleman contact me from the beautiful green island of Corfu with a story involving a mystery that had caused him a great amount of bewilderment:

“The Cat that Killed the Snake that Saved the Snakes Life”

Unknown-2

Four-lined snake (c) D Mulder

To his wife’s horror, the man concerned had found a young four-lined snake at their home. He was an avid photographer and so after taking several shots he rushed to get a better lens for his camera. Whilst doing so, their cat promptly pounced on, and, after some tussling, killed the snake stone dead…

After some time, the snake began to move.. but it was dead for sure. However, it moved, and moved, and moved. The man and his wife were totally puzzled by the mystery of the moving dead snake.

corfu_snake_01

Whip snake emerges (c) D Mulder

Then, to both their complete amazement, another snake’s head appeared from the mouth of the first snake and a smaller snake emerged unscathed to slither off…  A small whip snake had just been eaten by the predatory snake the cat had killed. Amazing, but true. How the snake survived, and turned itself around inside the other to come out head first is another mystery that remains unsolved..

If you or your children would be interested in perhaps solving other interesting mysteries for themselves, just ask them to click on the image below to get them started!

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 15.30.44

Chameleon World Muji

mer copy

Dwarf Jackson’s Chameleon, Jacksonii merumontanus.

6 months ago I acquired a beautiful young male Jackson’s chameleon.

He was no ordinary jacksons, but a dwarf specimen from the mountain of Meru in Tanzania. Mount Meru is located 70 kilometres (43 miles) west of Mount Kilimanjaro and reaches a height of 4,565 metres (14,977 ft). It is about the ninth or tenth highest mountain in Africa.

My male is stunningly beautiful, is bright turquoise blue and has 3 long horns. Last summer I kept him outside on a potted olive tree and he loved sunning himself and feeding on flying insects, including hoverflies. I obtained him from a super couple, Julian and Michaela of Chameleon World Muji, who specialise in keeping and breeding such montane species of chameleons, and their knowledge and experience with these wonderful creatures is extensive.

JulianYesterday Tara and I had the privilege of meeting Julian and Michaela, after travelling to Oxford in order to see them and their collection and to collect a female specimen we had reserved. It was an amazing afternoon and Tara and I were treated to a visual feast of some of the most incredible chameleons you could imagine!  Julian and Michaela’s passion and enthusiasm for them made it a very special day.

Although they have wealth a experience breeding Panther Chameleons, their interest has been drawn toward working with ‘montane chameleons’ and to try to dispel the common thought that they’re hard to keep, and don’t adapt well in captivity.

Female Furcifer minor, Endangered Madagascan species

Female Furcifer minor, Endangered Madagascan species

Over the last few years they have been working with a number of spectacular African and Madagascan species, some of which haven’t been seen in the hobby for some time. This, and sharing experiences of like-minded keepers, has provided them a wealth of knowledge and the skills required to breed and provide captive-bred chameleons of the highest quality for others to enjoy.

 

CHAMELEON WORLD MUJI          FOLLOW MUJI ON FACEBOOK

Happy New Year!

We hope you had a wonderful Christmas! This past year has been one of the most eventful of all for us here and next year proposes to be just as super. Over the next 3 or 4 months Matt will be visiting Norden’s Ark in Sweden, Adam, surveying amphibians in Atlanta, and I hope to post back from Brazil.  All in all the new year promises lots of new exciting adventures, amphibian-related escapades, and frog fun that we hope you’ll all enjoy following. We wish you and yours a great year ahead too!

We also hope you have fully recovered from New Years Eve! – unlike these two troublemakers who gave away the unsupervised party antics of frogs in the vivarium  – which until now we were totally unaware of! :-)

 

Tara’s page

Spiders, vipers, and christmas wishes!

sweetscreams

Spider-tailed viper, Fathenia et al (2009)

So – did you guess the creature in the last post?.. Well, it was a difficult one for sure. Here’s a reply I sent someone who thought it was maybe some sort of crab..

Believe it or not what you saw in the video is a remarkable reptile: a highly adapted Iranian viper that’s extremely camouflaged. Personally, I’ve seen nothing like it.

Its tail has adapted to look exactly like a spider to attract birds to feed on. It moves its many-legged tail to imitate a spider so perfectly, and is so well camouflaged, that the birds it feeds on just don’t stand a chance!

How amazing is that!

For those of you attempting our christmas quiz, please don’t give up hope, the answers are slightly more easier! :) and you have until New Year day..

 Vivarium Christmas Quiz

First prize for answering all the questions correctly is a behind the scenes tour of the Vivarium at Manchester Museum for you and a friend, anytime in the New Year. Second prize is a wonderful book on Frogs and Toads of the World by Chris Mattison (this can also be chosen by the 1st prize winner if you do not live in the UK).

From me and all of us here in the vivarium, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Quiz!

Whilst I was travelling this year a good friend of mine tested my knowledge by asking if I knew about a very unusual creature indeed…

The animal in question can be seen in the short clip below – perhaps you know what it might be?..

 

 

Please use the comment box below this post if you know what type of creature that is!

frog-with-a-question-mdTalking of testing peoples knowledge, maybe you might also be interested in a little Christmas quiz  – the first prize for answering all the questions correctly is a behind the scenes tour of the Vivarium at Manchester Museum for you and a friend, anytime in the New Year. It’s free to enter and the closing date of the quiz is New Years Day. Second prize is a wonderful book on Frogs and Toads of the World by Chris Mattison (this can also be chosen by the 1st prize winner if you do not live in the UK).

So – lets see how much you know about frogs, the Vivarium at Manchester Museum, and the people who contribute to frogblogmanchester?..

Vivarium Christmas Quiz 

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