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Food for thought!

Most people know what colourful poison-dart frogs like to eat, tiny invertebrates. But have you ever wondered which animal likes to feed on poison-dart frogs? – do they even have any predators at all?  I remember once seeing a superb display in the San Jose Zoo, Costa Rica, sponsored by The Baltimore Aquarium – it had Golden Eyelash Vipers mixed with Poison-dart frogs all living in the same vivarium, it was so cool.

Someone quite knowledgeable also told me that the frogs simply don’t have any predators, but I did once see a beautiful tiny Strawberry-dart Frog caught in a large spiders web. I know frogs in general have many predators, including spiders (pictured), but at the same time it got me thinking…what else might feed on bright poison-dart frogs?

I never took the thought much further. That was until I was walking through one of our zoology storage areas this week and met Gina Allnatt, our Biology Curatorial Trainee. Gina is with us for a year and is working in the museum’s Botany, Entomology, Conservation and Zoology departments. She’s a hard worker, and properly clued up. She blogs at curatorialtrainee.wordpress.com

Gina’s working with Birds at the moment and she showed me one of her favourites  – a real beauty from Central America that has the most amazing colours. Check out the clip below of Gina’s favourite bird….and find the answer to that poison-dart frog question!


Tour de Vive!

Earlier this year we started to develop an idea that would allow us to enhance our visitor experience, whilst also highlighting much of the fundamental conservation and engagement work that is being carried out by Manchester Museum. The idea was to develop special tours of the Vivarium that would be led by our University students.

Many people don’t expect to see live animals in a museum, but much of the important work carried out with this collection underpins the Manchester Museum’s key goals.       The Museum is not a zoo, and our animals are not displayed for entertainment purposes.

The live collection at Manchester Museum started 50 years ago as an important educational resource, and the Vivarium continues to be admission free for anyone who wishes to learn about it’s amazing inhabitants. The displays aim to fascinate and inspire, with the ultimate aim that this will lead to a further interest in the animals and create a care and commitment to the habitats where they live in the wild.

The Vivarium is very popular with visiting school children and a special education collection has been carefully developed to allow children and special needs visitors some amazing opportunities to get up close to some unique animals.  The well-being of many of these visitors seems especially enhanced by such direct contact with nature.  Through establishing conservation initiatives for some of the world’s most critically endangered amphibians, the Museum is also active in direct species preservation.

By investigating some of the things covered in this blog you may get an idea of just some of the work that is carried out in relation to the Vivarium.  And, as you can probably see from the feedback, the Vivarium tours are a huge success.This is down to the passion and commitment of all the students that have been involved. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all, and particularly Elena Martin Avila (pictured), who has helped me greatly in establishing this student programme, from interviewing and managing the students, to delivering some fantastic tours herself.

I hope you may get to visit us and enjoy the Vivarium at The Manchester Museum, and if you would like to take one of our tours please click the link to the right of the page. Also, if you would like to hear more about the use of our live collection and amphibian conservation work, please keep an eye on frogblog as the next presentation at the Museum will focus on just that. If you can’t visit the Vivarium directly, I very much hope that you enjoy following frogblog!

Tours of the Vivarium Gallery take place every Thursday, between 12 and 1pm, and are also given monthly in Spanish and French.

To book a place, please email: ManchesterMuseumVivarium@gmail.com 

To view our feedback in relation to the Vivarium Tours*, please click here

*Please note that these are informative Gallery Tours and not ‘Behind the Scenes

Special thanks to our vivarium volunteer Sara-Xaali O’Reilly Berkeley for producing the fab poster above!