Over the past week or so, a colleague who lives in East Cornwall has been in touch with some questions regarding his garden pond and its inhabitants. He only built the pond (pictured) fairly recently, and I know that he and his wife get a huge amount of pleasure from just observing all the wildlife attracted from the open countryside the pond edges. It now also supports a large population of common frogs, toads and newts. He ‘communes’ with the pond every day, sometimes several times a day, just watching what is going on in it. He has told me that he finds it extremely therapeutic, and I can certainly identify with where he is coming from. It really is amazing to hear how the building of a wildlife pond in your garden can have such a positive impact on not just the wildlife but also people’s wellbeing, and its something that more and more people are interested in doing. In this post, I thought I would cover two aspects of having a pond and include some of the photos he kindly sent me. The first is clearly how much benefit a pond can provide, and if you would like to hear more and read how to actually build a pond, I attach a PDF from Natural England you can download and which I hope you will find of interest: Garden Ponds
The second thing I would just like to mention is a problem that is adversely affecting some frog populations in the UK, and which can be very distressing for amphibians and pond-keepers alike. Over the years there have been many reports of frog mortalities in ponds throughout the country and of amphibians suffering from various infections and viruses. Although some of these reports fit with frogs having typical symptoms of a prevalent ‘Ranavirus’, other reports have not. Such has been a problem in my colleagues’ pond, where adult frogs have recently been found very emaciated and largely immobile, hanging motionless in the water with their legs outstretched, or showing signs of red sores on the skin (Pictured). It’s absolutely gutting to see such things, particularly when there is little you can do help.
Although the death toll has now abated, he wasn’t at all sure what he should do, particularly with there being healthy looking tadpoles and newts also in the pond at this time of year. The advice he was given was not to remove the tadpoles and newts to try to protect them, as this might spread the problem. It is now a week later and it looks as though the tadpoles and newts are looking healthy and he has even found an adult frog that seems totally unaffected. Although I am somewhat familiar with symptoms of the Ranavirus, this particular case remains unclear and has left me wondering what exactly it is. My colleague contacted ‘Froglife’ who proved extremely helpful. They are currently looking into the problem and I know they are also collating data on such cases, including having a Frog Mortality Project focusing on Ranavirus outbreaks. For more information on this, and to report any new cases, please see :
P.S. Please don’t let such reports put you 0ff from having a pond in your garden – I am sure all those who do, including my colleague, will certify the extraordinary rewards!
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