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New Year wishes (and frogs) from George Madani

George writes from Australia with wishes to all for a Happy New Year! He has been extraordinarily busy with fieldwork since the start of the Australian spring, and the last few months have seen him up in Cape York training some of the traditional owners in fauna survey techniques. He’s also been monitoring a population of endangered Giant Barred Frogs, Mixophyes iterates, and working as a research assistant once more at the University of Sydney in a herpetology lab. Just about every night for the last few months George has spent frogging, and when he hasn’t been officially working, he’s been frogging and spotlighting in his free time anyway!

Mixophyes iteratus amplexus[8]

Giant Barred Frogs, Mixophyes iterates, (c) G. Madani

Here are some of George’s superb photographs and his descriptions of the frog’s breeding biology: The first is of an amplexing pair of Giant Barred Frogs, Mixophyes iterates, the species he’s been monitoring. The male and female can remain attached for days, with the male loath to abandon the female until she has released her eggs.

The male can be so stubborn that he will risk exposure rather then to let go of his prize and George sometimes comes across males exposed on the surface whilst still attached to the female who remains hidden and buried below the leaf litter. Interestingly, once the pair has spawned, the females use the extensive webbing on their back feet to flick up the fertilised eggs onto the creek bank to develop amongst the damp soil and leaf litter in a clever anti-predator strategy. Once the tadpoles have hatched they then slip off the bank and into the water with a head start to life! Amazing!

Assa darlingtoni - Marsupial Frog[9]

Hip-pocket Frog, Assa darlingtoni, (c) George Madani

The second image is of Assa darlingtoni, which goes by a few names including the Hip-pocket Frog, Pouched Frog or Marsupial Frog. As all these names infer, this unique and amazing little amphibian has pouches near the groin with which the male of the species uses to accommodate the tadpoles after hatching.

The opaque white tadpoles develop inside over the course of about 50 days or so before metamorphosing and braving their new world of rainforest leaf litter!  At about 20mm long these enigmatic little frogs can take some finding, with this miniscule individual taking over an hour to locate!

Pseudophryne coriacea[9]

Red-backed Toadlet, Pseudophryne coriacea (c) G. Madani

The final image is of the Red-backed Toadlet, Pseudophryne coriacea. Known as brood frogs, the males of this species are also good fathers. They will call from and guard their little submerged nest of fertilized clear globular eggs. The nests are usually located in soaks, ditches and natural gutters underneath deep leaf litter, rocks and logs. When the rain finally comes, rising water washes the ripe eggs down into nearby creeks where they hatch into tadpoles and the next life stage commences.

George Madani (Simpson/Tasmania)         Kimberly update         Borneo Update

Merry Christmas!

Xmas card

Many thanks to our Vivarium Volunteer Ruby Tingle for the fab card above!

Overall this has been another amazing year and I would sincerely like thank everyone for their continued support through their actions and kind words of encouragement., which I really appreciate: I would especially like to thank my assistants, colleagues, and volunteers, without whom our successes would not have been realised. Here I must give a very special thanks to my full-time assistant Adam, who has been an absolute star in supporting the live collection, and all we are working to achieve. I would also like to thank my friend and colleague Alexa, who has been instrumental in establishing much of our HE work. Although leaving the museum, Alexa will be posting on the blog next year during her extensive travels through South and Central America.

tumblr_mcrnptOB5A1rxjkwoo1_500I so hope you have enjoyed the entries this year. I also hope that we have made a real difference in the conservation work being done, and especially with helping little ones to become more interested in nature, upon which the future of wildlife conservation really depends.

2013 promises to be quite something for us here in the Vivarium, starting with a trip to Costa Rica in a weeks time, frog expeditions to uncharted territory in Central America this summer, and the development and opening of a newly-interpreted Vivarium in the autumn. With the support of all involved in Project Lemur Frog, this will also be a very important year for seeing many of our aims with this international initiative come to fruition.

Last but not least, I would really like to thank you for listening, I hope you will enjoy sharing with us what is to come.

Wishes to you and yours for a very special Christmas and great New Year ahead!

Lots of love,

Andrew x


End of the world..

Apart from receiving some lovely cards, last week was pants, one of my worst for a long time for many reasons. Anything that could go wrong, did. With the end of the World expected by some, this week had to be better! 🙂

And so it has been. But good or bad, it’s not really the end of the world. In fact, its amazing how some of the most trying times are the times that help you grow the most and to see things with fresh eyes. Recent events have made me really appreciate somethings more than ever.

I got a picture for my Birthday, an original collage that struck a cord the first time I saw it


To Risk

Millie’s Message

Unknown-2“Hello, my name is Millie Jo Hearsey, I’m 8 years old and I live in Calvert Green, Buckinghamshire.  When I was little I always really liked frogs and got lots of books, toys, games, anything ‘froggy’!  I love to read about frogs, make model frogs, write stories about them and make activity books about them too.  One of my frog stories is called ‘Grass Snake’s Tale’ which had Frog Police and an Evil Toad in the story.  It was made into a library book by my teacher at school.  There’s even a copy up in my class room for people to read when they’ve finished their work.

I will be sharing lots of photos of frog things with you and telling you my frog stories on my new frog blog page.  I hope other children who like frogs will like my blog page too!

Millie x                            Visit Millie’s New Frogblog Page Here!


IMG_1515This week I have been spending time at BCA (formerly the Berkshire College of Agriculture), near Maidstone/Henley on Themes. Here I presented talks for the HE students on amphibian conservation after being invited down by Animal Centre Manager Calvin Allen (pictured right). Calvin is very passionate about animals, and about ensuring people keep them properly. Through his interest in animal conservation, BCA are now working collaboratively with us on Project Lemur Frog.

Since Calvin has been in charge of BCA’s animal centre it has taken strides forward in offering their learners the opportunity to work closely with a wide variety of unusual species, and students also now get the opportunity to gain a proper understanding of animal conservation and the importance of conducting conservation-related studies. With this in mind, the animal centre has recently developed links across the UK to help support various projects that are helping conserve species including the Scottish Wildcat, Red Squirrel, and more recently the Lemur Leaf Frog.

IMG_1508I have to say that I was extremely impressed with the level of animal husbandry being provided at BCA and particularly the attitude of their staff to the health and welfare of the animals. None more so than Nicola Mumford, BCA’s Senior Exotics House Technician.

Apart from seeing their Elephant Shrews (which look like Scrat from Ice Age! :), a highlight of my visit was seeing the Exotics House, which has been specially designed by Calvin to allow students the experience of working within different animal husbandry settings.  Here, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates are housed and displayed as if to the public, with large beautifully landscaped exhibits allowing the animals to thrive and students the opportunity to spend time observing them properly.

A4ODpv9CYAAs1bDBehind the scenes they also have rooms that are dedicated to teaching students about invertebrates, amphibians and other smaller reptiles. These superb facilities have been instrumental in facilitating the centre’s breeding successes with several species, such as the Fire Skinks (Riopa fernando), which are commonly imported from the wild but rarely captive bred. The amphibian room also houses species such as Surinam Toad (Pipa pipa), various poison frogs, and now rare tree frogs.

I would sincerely like to thank Calvin and BCA for their collaborative support with Project Lemur Frog and to say what a pleasure it was to present my subject to the staff and students of BCA this week, I hope they enjoyed it too.

Here is a video clip of Calvin showing some of the Exotics House facilities:

       BCA                 BCA Animal Management Courses                Project Lemur Frog