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The Hermit and the frog!

ansumanAt the moment we have a Hermit living in our Museum Tower! He is to be in there for 40 days and nights without meeting a soul! Over the past few weeks he has been posting numerous interesting museum objects on his blog, causing some stirring debates!

Ansuman Biswas, The Hermit,  is an international interdisciplinary artist, a practising vapissana meditator, and a thoroughly nice chap! What’s more, what this man has to say is very interesting and extremely thought provoking.  

Please check out his latest offering and feel free to offer your thoughts….



Amphibian Book!

BookcoverSince my last post I’ve had several enquiries about amphibian captive husbandry. Many of these have come from people who are particularly interested in keeping amphibians for the very first time, and its been a real pleasure to hear from them and to hopefully provide some useful advice.

In general, my view on keeping wild amphibians in captivity is that they really belong in the wild. However, so long as the neccessary requirements can be fully met, I think that the keeping of some captive-bred amphibians can be extremely rewarding.  The main importance here is that the animals are properly cared for and that they have a good quality of life.      

To this end, I wrote a book several years ago on how to maintain a variety of different amphibian species successfully, which I dedicated to a wonderful friend of the family, Laurie Smith. He really supported my interest in animals when I was little and without his support in life I really don’t think things would have worked out the way they have for me. I owe him so much. Very sadly he died, just around the time the book was published by Collins, but I will never forget his face when I saw him read the little dedication I had written in the book.    

If anyone would be interested in obtaining a copy of the book, either for its introductory information on how to start keeping amphibians or just for general amphibian interest, more copies should hopefully be available soon in the Museum shop for the price of just £5 (for those interested but who can’t visit,  I’d be more than happy to send you out a new signed copy – please just contact me for details)

New Poison-dart Frog Exhibit!

Picture 486Whilst waiting to get the go-ahead to restore our Amazon Exhibit, I thought it a real shame to not have our beautiful green and black poison-dart frogs on display. Therefore, I have recently worked on a new exhibit so visitors can see the frogs up close. Now the exhibit is all finished, and the frogs are in place, they appear to love being in their newly planted vivarium and are extremely active.  

If visiting the Museum, why not come and take a look at these truly amazing little creatures!

Click the link below to see a video clip and to find out more about these frogs: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7597107.stm

North West Reptile Club!

For anyone in the North-west of England interested in reptiles and amphibians, there is a great reptile club that has been established near Martin Mere. Meetings are held regularly with invited speakers covering a wide range of interesting subjects. The meetings start at approx 8pm and aim to finish around 9.30pm.  The club meets at The Martin Inn, Mescar Lane, Burscough, Lancashire. 

The next talk is on the 13 August, when Paul Rowley from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine will be talking about his work with venomous snake species. Paul is a great guy with a massive amount of experience and I am sure his talk will be fascinating. For all those who want to find out more about the club and the talks check out this link: NWRC

Homeward bound!

Εικόνα 038

It is now time to leave Corfu and in 3 hours I will be on the plane back to England.  Had a relaxing day on the beach and a lovely Mediteranean lunch. I must admit that I will miss green trees against blue skies and white sand against blue water, but spending time on the beach has made me think how many people must come to Corfu and never go anywhere apart from it. They really don’t know what they are missing. In just 7 days I have seen 21 different reptiles and amphibians – and this is supposed to be the worst time of year to see anything! The places I have been and the people I’ve met have been wonderful too, such a great island. One thing that sticks out in my mind has been seeing a common reptile I knew full well I would see, a Greek  Tortoise. I had one or two when I was a kid, but to see them in the wild, roaming the dunes, was very special. To see such wonderful creatures living where they really belong is something that far outways seeing anything in captivity.

Εικόνα 070As I leave, I feel privilaged to have experienced a different side of the Island than most holidaymakers and also to have had a glimpse of the wildlife diversity that once inspired one of my childhood heroes, Gerald Durrell. Seeing so many herps during my visit would not have been possible without the help of Matt Wilson, and for him sharing his knowledge, herpetological skills, and enthusiasm, I am very grateful. Cheers Matt.

Addition: The same week I arrived home I was sickened by some reports in the news. I can’t write here what I think of these people, but I am sure you can guess: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/essex/8156846.stm

Para-Dice snakes!

Εικόνα 093I just can’t believe how beautiful Corfu is – it really is a Zoologist’s paradise. Today I went with Matt to the beautiful Ropa Valley in Central Corfu and we searched for herps along a little river that flows through the centre. It’s hard to explain just how diverse the areas we are going to are, particularly for this time of year when its so hot. The river’s edge was lush with green vegetation and thick with the most amazing insects and birdlife. Walking ankle deep through wild lavender, surrounded by large colourful dragonflies, we saw lots of fabulous creatures. Εικόνα 077Εικόνα 003                                              

The river contained many terrapins which quickly dived for cover. They soon realised we were no threat  – and came back out to check us out! We also saw two species of snake, including grass snakes and the rarer Dice snake. Marsh frogs sat calling and sunbathing at the water’s surface, it was magical to just sit there and witness it all…


Εικόνα 004Although we searched and searched the hot rocky habitat of Mount Pandokrator on our trip to the highlands of Corfu, we didn’t find a single Horned Viper. Apparently this is about the worst months to be searching for them here because its just too hot. April, May and October is the best time when the weather is definately more suitable for both man and beast! We left the mountain top disappointed.

Later in the day however, our luck changed drastically. Walking through a lovely shady olive grove nearer to our base we disturbed a large Montpellier snake that was out hunting green lizards. Old olive trees (pictured) make for great reptile habitat as they have holes and crevices in which they can easily hide. Well, as soon as the snake saw us he was off. and at what a speed!!! I honestly don’t think I have ever seen a snake move faster! These snakes actively search prey by sight and have amazing eyesight – we were lucky to even get so close. An amazing snake – and one of Matt’s favourites, it made his day.   Before leaving the area, as the sun was setting and the mosquitoes started to bite, we found an ancient stone wall near an old overgrown chapel. A big flat stone nearby looked perfect. It’s funny but herper’s just get good vibes about the size, flatness, and position of such stones. Sounds nerdy, but it’s so true, you just know something good is waiting to be discovered beneath. We looked at each other and lifted the stone….Εικόνα 025

A Blind Snake. what can I say. So rare. sooo elusive, never found at this time of year, if at all in Corfu!

Nice find. Nice day. How I dislike the word ‘Nice’ – Bloody fantastic day! to be polite!