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Vivarium assistants

For the next couple of weeks I will be in Costa Rica, where I’ll be spending some time in the central highlands and also down on the Caribbean coast. Here I plan to visit a range of different animal conservation centres which I hope to report back to you about via the blog. So, while I am out there, if there is anything of particular interest just let me know and I’ll try and make a short clip about it and post it on the ‘Live’ section especially.

While I am away it’s really important that I leave the animals in the Museum in safe hands. I have to say that in that respect I am really lucky at the moment as I have two excellent assistants who both really know their stuff and who I can fully rely on to properly care for the animals whilst I’m away; Matt Wilson and Adam Bland. Matt is currently part-time and Adam has been working with the animals here more or less full-time since Darren moved to Vancouver. Both are really knowledgeable about their subject and Adam in particular has a massive amount of experience keeping both amphibians and reptiles in captivity. One of his passions is keeping geckos. Here Adam introduces himself and shows a Caledonian crested gecko:

Vivarium ‘Live’

Anyone interested in what goes on behind the scenes in the vivarium may want to check out a clip filmed minutes ago on Steve’s phone. After the response of the Iguana footage shown live, we thought it might be a nice idea to give a quick overview of a few other animals we have in the collection and what’s going on so you can ask us some questions and have them answered live. It’s not great quality and also not exhaustive, but hopefully there is enough to let you know what we’re doing. So, literally anything you would like to see or find out about please just get in touch and we’ll make a short video clip and try and answer as many of your questions as possible. Your answer will also feature on Youtube and in the ‘Live’ section (at the top of the blog).

Of course I can’t talk about all these different species without mentioning the author of The Origin of The Species – Charles Darwin, and our superb new exhibition based on his life, which opens tomorrow:  (http://www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/whatson/exhibitions/theevolutionist/)

An alternative rare golden frog!

img_58651Whilst working in the Vivarium last week, I got a call from our reception to say that a rare live golden frog that had been brought into the museum! I obviously said I would be straight down and was very pleased the museum lift was working at last! When I got there, sure enough, there was a beautiful live golden frog waiting for me :-). However, it was not the endangered tropical form I had fleetingly imagined, but one from much closer to home. It was in fact an albino common frog, that a lady from nearby Stretford had kindly brought in to show me. I must admit that I was very pleased she had, for although I knew that these albinos occaisionally turn up I had never ever seen one in the flesh. img_5863Most albino frogs are easily spotted by predators and usually dont’ last long. However, this was a large adult female and was a stunning bright orange colour. It was clearly thriving and very healthy so must have been clever at evading predators for all its life. Here is a photo of the animal and also above is one of the lady, Mrs Pollit, who very kindly decided to bring in the animal from her pond to show me.

Fiji’s on extended honeymoon!

figi-maleEarlier this week we recieved Chester Zoo’s female Fijian Iguana to pair up with our male.  Over the weekend we are hoping they will get together and mate. The new female has settled in well and has already been making amorous moves towards our Manchester male 🙂

Mondays update: The Chester female  is eating well and looking good! She seems to have taken a real fancy to the Manchester Male and has even been spotted liking his face 😛

Tuesdays update: Today our male Fijian Iguana is almost unrecognizable, having changed from his normal bright green and blue clouration (see photo) to dark green with almost black stripes. This is the display colouration  of Fijian iguana males that are ready to mate!

End of week update: The male and female are now inseparable and getting on extremely well. Throughout the week there has been constant  display behaviours with lots of communication through head bobbing.  However, we still have not actually witnessed any matings and so we are  now considering leaving the loved up pair together for a further week to ensure the pairing is successful 🙂

Darren to Canada

img_5843I owe this entry to my assistant, Darren Smy, who leaves for the Vancouver Aqaurium soon. We have worked together for many years and his committment to what has been achieved with the frogs at Manchester speaks volumes to all who are truly aware of what has been involved. As well as being a good friend, he has been the best assistant anyone could have asked for. He will be missed very much.  I am sure that in his new job in Canada he will excell, and that they will soon be as proud of him there as I have been to have worked along side him here.

Darren’s Mums Blog: http://scribblesbyglynis.blogspot.com/2008/12/my-son-has-emigrated.html

Rare frog rediscovered!

At the moment we are also rearing some recently metamorphosed froglets of another Costa Rican frog Isthmohyla lancastri. These small tree frogs live around and breed in fast flowing streams in the rainforest. Their call is really cool, like a little chirping bird. The specimens we have call in the back area all day long……

In the future we are hoping we can put these beautiful little frogs on display  and further highlight the important amphibian conservation work being carried out and in September, Andrew will be travelling back to Costa Rica to try and find their rarest relative Isthmohyla rivularis, which he rediscovered at Monteverde last year:


Welcome to Frog Blog

Thank you for joining us for our first Frog Blog!

On Wednesday 23rd July both of us met with Richard Gibson and Douglas Sherriff from Chester Zoo regarding the development of a conservation project involving Green-eyed frogs Lithobates vibicaria. Last year, Andrew  acquired some specimens of this Costa Rican species from what is thought to be the last known breeding site in the world for the species. The pond is at Monteverde, and Andrew was given special permission from the authorities to collect a few tadpole specimens to start an Ex-situ breeding programme as one of the ways of helping conserve this critically endangered species. Andrew has proposed a conservation project that mainly involves supporting the wild frogs in Costa Rica. All the specimens Andrew collected are now going to Chester Zoo, who have welcomed the opportunity to  support the conservation of this criticaly endangered species.