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It wasn’t supposed to be scary!

I thought you might enjoy this short clip of a young boy from Gorton South meeting our Chameleon and watching it feed. I am not so sure the session had the desired effect! 

Best wishes to Amanda Shore!

I would like to dedicate this post (and all the video entries posted this week), to Amanda Shore, who will be leaving the Museum tomorrow to take up a full-time school teaching position. I have been working with Amanda for some time, doing a little to help support the wonderful Early Years teaching she has been doing at the Manchester Museum.  It has been such a pleasure to work with her and I really wish her all the very best in her new job.  Amanda has also been responsible for organising children from local schools and centres, such as those from Gorton South Sure Start Children’s Centre, to come in for Early Years sessions with the vivarium animals.  I hope you will enjoy seeing the latest sessions as much as I enjoyed conducting them  – and working with Amanda.  Today’s clip is of a young boy and girl from Gorton South seeing a snake up close for the very first time! 🙂 Good luck Amanda! 🙂

Frogs, foam, and fast exits!


Here are some photographs of the wonderful frog, Edalorhina perezi, from Ecuador. These frogs are usually brown to match their surroundings, but show their bright bold colours if disturbed by predators. They even enlarge themsleves and have two ‘eye spots’ when viewed from the rear, which makes them appear threatening to other animals. I found this pair breeding at the very back of a deep ‘cheese-press’  cave that I crawled inside. The ceiling was crawling with large whip-scorpions and at the back was  a colony of vampire bats. Just about managed to keep my cool as I photographed these frogs laying their eggs inside a foamy nest being whipped up by the male’s back legs. My back legs couldn’t get me out of fast enough afterwards when the whip-scorpions became active! 🙂

Re: Amphibian reproduction -Tadpoles blowing bubbles!

Talking of foam nesting frogs, here is short clip of the foam nest of the large South American frog Leptodactylus stenodema also found in Ecuador. I was out there with Dr Morley Read trying to record the calls of the frogs and get some nice footage. We managed to catch the intermittent mating call of the male, which as you can hear is loud and rauchous. When these frogs breed they lay their eggs in the large foamy nest they make, usually under a large leaf , in a dry area that is about to be flooded by imminent rain. However, sometimes the frogs get it wrong and it may be several weeks before the rains come and the tadpoles are able to swim away.  We found that in the mean time, the tadpoles appear to constantly blow bubbles in an effort to help maintain the nest. Apart from recording the call of the male frog, we were pleased to film this unusual tadpole behaviour for the first time.


Amphibian reproduction – Tree frogs use Bromeliads too!

untitled-3Most of us tend to think that its only Poison-dart frogs, like the one posted last week, that use bromeliads to help develop their tadpoles. However, there are also some treefrogs who do the same, even some species belonging to the genus Isthmohyla that are found in Central America live and breed exclusively in these type of plants.  Here is a photo of a most unusual treefrog belonging to the genus Phyllodytes that I found whilst exploring the highest peak in Trindad, El Tucuche,  with Professor Malcolm Kennedy from Glasgow University’s Department of Zoology, some years ago.  This is the beautiful Golden tree Frog Phyllodytes auratus. untitled-4I believe this little frog, which is  endemic to Trinidad, lives and breeds exclusively in only one type of giant bromeliad on this one mountain in the world – or did do.  Someone recently told me it has now gone, but I really hope this is not the case. During the trip we found gold-striped tadpoles (pictured right) only in the bromeliads that had a single adult frog present, suggesting the parent may care for their tadpoles in much the same way as poison-dart frogs do – by guarding and feeding them on unfertilized eggs. Here is bit more info on this interesting and extremely rare species:


Find out about more South and Central American Frogs Here

Fiji’s on extended honeymoon!

figi-maleEarlier this week we recieved Chester Zoo’s female Fijian Iguana to pair up with our male.  Over the weekend we are hoping they will get together and mate. The new female has settled in well and has already been making amorous moves towards our Manchester male 🙂

Mondays update: The Chester female  is eating well and looking good! She seems to have taken a real fancy to the Manchester Male and has even been spotted liking his face 😛

Tuesdays update: Today our male Fijian Iguana is almost unrecognizable, having changed from his normal bright green and blue clouration (see photo) to dark green with almost black stripes. This is the display colouration  of Fijian iguana males that are ready to mate!

End of week update: The male and female are now inseparable and getting on extremely well. Throughout the week there has been constant  display behaviours with lots of communication through head bobbing.  However, we still have not actually witnessed any matings and so we are  now considering leaving the loved up pair together for a further week to ensure the pairing is successful 🙂

Adders Add up!

adder-headI have to tell you about yesterday when I went to Derbyshire especially to look for Adders – it was such a brilliant day. I just love this time of year, when everything is starting to come alive and all our native herps come out of hibernation. Well, yesterday I went with herpetologist Matt Wilson, Lorna Bousfield of the Lancashire  ARG (Amphibian  Reptile Group), and my friend Peter Taylor to join Chris Monk, a super guy who has been surveying the Adders in this area for the past 5 years. Chris is really dedicated to the Adders and what he doesn’t know about these wonderful snakes simply isn’t worth knowing!  Throughout the afternoon we searched, and with Chris’s help discovered a total of 29 beautiful snakes. Most were males but we were also lucky enough to find one light-coloured female – a first for Chris this year and at a new location too, so hope fully we at least brought him some luck!  It was superb to share the day with like-minded people, and I managed to get some nice photos of the snakes too (see above & below).  I have to say that Matt Wilson is also one of the most knowledgeable young herpetologists I have ever met. His knowledge and experience, particularly with European Herps is phenomenal.  Knowing Matt for years, I would guarantee that anyone interested in employing a good herp worker couldn’t go at all wrong with Matt.