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Gothic Gargoyles!

Yesterday morning we had a lovely surprise waiting for us in the Vivarium  – 2 beautiful baby Gargoyle Geckos, Rhacodactylus auriculatus, had hatched overnight! 🙂 Well, I say hatched, but they were actually still in their eggs, with their little heads out surveying their new world with wide eyes. These geckos take 2 months to develop in the egg before cutting their way out. As they emerge from their egg-sack at this stage it’s a particularly vulnerable time for them, and if disturbed too much they may even refuse to put their heads out and can easily suffocate. These beautiful geckos are another species from New Caledonia and can come in 2 forms, striped or reticulated. Ours are the striped form and grow to look spectacular as adults. As they mature, they also develop strange-looking bumps on their heads which look almost like ears, which is what their latin name refers to. However, the common name of gargoyle gecko also relates to how their heads look as adults, very much like a gothic gargoyle. Our adults really remind me of some of the stone gargoyle heads found on the building our vivarium is housed in.

The Vivarium is located in a beautiful Victorian gothic building which first opened in 1885 and was actually designed by the famous Victorian Gothic Revival architect Alfred Waterhouse, who also designed Manchester’s Town Hall and the Natural History Museum in London. One of the other great things about working at the Museum for me is having such fabulous architectural surroundings, as I am particular fan of Victorian gothic architecture. Looking out from my office through leaded windows to view the beautiful stonework, gothic arches, patterned rooflines, and all the intricate detailing everywhere, it really is a gorgeous building – particularly when the sun casts such light as it does today. I am now viewing those gargoyles in a new light  (sorry, couldn’t resist 🙂

For further information on the history of  The Manchester Museum see: http://www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/history/


Colourful News!

Adult female Borneo Rainbow Toad, (51 mm) (c) Indraneil Das

In case you missed it, I just thought you might be interested in the news that the small colourful toad, Ansonia latidisca, has  been rediscovered in the forests of Borneo. It was a species thought to be extinct for almost 90 years, but a group from the University in Malaysia Sarawak led by Professor Indraneil Das found three of the long-legged Borneo rainbow toads during a night-time search. The team had spent months scouring remote mountain forests for the species. One of the students on the trip saw the first specimen high up a tree, and further searching discovered 2 more.

It really is amazing to see an image of this lost amphibian, as prior to  new photos being taken only illustrations of the toad had ever existed. These were drawn from specimens that were collected by European explorers in the 1920’s. Tadpoles were recorded to have sucker-like mouths and live in fast flowing streams or rivers, so the toad was also given the common name of the Sambas Stream Toad.

More here on the rediscovery of the lost Rainbow Toad


Froglife Big Saturday!!

Come and join Froglife for a fun filled wildlife day at the fabulous Big Saturday on Saturday 9th July!

* Please Scroll Down for addition and Photos of the day

We are working with Bolton Museum, the Froglife team, and other organisations and experts to host a special event with activities and talks – all on an aquatic wildlife theme.  There will be a chance to meet some of the stunning live amphibians from the Museum’s vivarium, learn about tropical fish conservation from Bolton Museum’s top Aquarists, and inspect aquatic insects with our experts from the Museum’s Entomology department. The day will also feature live rare fish, native reptiles, tortoises, and unusual crayfish. There will be plenty of opportunities to have a go at arts and crafts, and to find out more about local volunteering opportunities and local places to explore.

There will be a selection of fun activities for families, young people and enthusiasts to help spread the message about the value of water for wildlife. Our theme focuses on the fact that some diverse and incredible species depend on aquatic habitats, and this will be a chance to learn more, find out how to spot some of these animals, and see some of them up close and personal.

The Froglife Big Saturday will also include a programme of exciting and informative talks aimed at adults and young people over 12yrs about global conservation. These will include opportunities to watch films about our native toad from Bufo Film Productions, tips on European wildlife spotting by Matt, and a presentation by myself on tropical amphibian conservation. A number of staff and scientists from Froglife and The University of Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences, including Sam Taylor, John Walker, Victoria Ogilvy, Amanda Bamford, Katy Woodburn, and Andrew Dean, will also be sharing their work and research about amphibian conservation, amphibian declines, crayfish, aquatic carnivorous plants, and lake phytoplankton.

Talk schedule and Info Here!

Please come and join in the fun from 11am to 4pm. No booking is necessary and entrance to the Museum and to do most of the activities is free.


I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who contributed to making last Saturday’s Froglife Big Sat such a fantastic event.

We hope all who attended had a fabulous time!

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Froglife     Bolton Museum Aquarium    Freshwater Biological Association

 British Chelonia Group   Manchester Museum’s Entomology Department

Faculty of Life Sciences  Youth Board  Amphibian Ark