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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Unfortunately we can’t right all the world’s wrongs, but through showing care towards those we share our planet with we can make a difference. This past year has brought its ups and downs for us here, but we do hope we’ve made some difference to the lives of others – it certainly hasn’t been for the lack of trying!

Apart from caring for the animals, sharing our passion for conserving nature and the environment gives us all here a great deal of pleasure. Between us this year we have delivered many teaching sessions we feel have had real impact. Particularly rewarding have been the free sessions delivered to over 100 children and young adults with special educational needs and disabilities which were specifically focused to provide one to one engagement with the animals.

Some of our outreach work included taking creatures to local youth zones who support youngsters and in June a memorable followup session took place at Brockholes Nature Reserve where we took young people from INSPIRE to engage them with more nature (https://vimeo.com/348692564).This local community engagement project was also initiated in memory of and as a legacy for one of our university colleagues who had recently passed away.

A new DNA programme for KS4/5 students was also developed and initiated by Kasia this year. The PCR workshops produced build on the amphibian conservation-related work of the Vivarium and include rare frog specimens in the sessions, which have been high successful and continue as part of the museum’s Learning Team offer.

Matt, who was awarded his MSc Degree with distinction, has also been involved in lots of teaching this year and was integral to the running of the Tropical Ecology and Conservation field course for the School of Biology Medicine and Health.

Travelling to Costa Rica, he supervised 10 undergraduate student projects and also helped facilitate the smooth running of the course.  Matt made a huge contribution and received exceptional feedback from both colleagues and students on his teaching ability (https://frogblogmanchester.com/2019/06/19/staying-sustainable/)

This year we acquired the only live captive specimens of the Variable Harlequin Frog outside Panama for the museum’s collection and the related project supports a remote indigenous rainforest community within the Santa Fe National Park. The project trains local people as researchers to fully involve them in scientific data collection and conservation work, and engages communities and schoolchildren to support care for their environment.

The project was launched by the Ambassador of Panama at Manchester Museum in March, and through our Sponsor a Frog scheme 20 state of the art data loggers are supporting environmental data collection in Santa Fe and 2000 primary school-based programme booklets have been provided. A Harlequin Frog Festival established with the community to raise awareness of the project now takes place on an annual basis.

As the new year approaches, and our blog visitors approach 700,000, which continues to reflect the attraction of audiences from every single country in the world (195 worldwide), we would like invite you take a look back through our Archives (Top right). This work wouldn’t be possible without all our supporters, and invaluable volunteers, who share our mindset on wildlife conservation, habitat protection, and social responsibility. To you we are extremely grateful, Thank you so much!

To all we wish a very Merry Christmas a great New Year ahead! X


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Some feedback from 2019

Happy Harlequin Christmas!

This is just a short note to say a big thanks to all the people supporting our conservation work through our new Sponsor a Harlequin Frog initiative! As Christmas is fast approaching we are getting an increasing number of people wanting to show their support whilst also giving this unique sponsorship opportunity to their loved ones. It’s an unusual thoughtful gift, and the support for the conservation project is very much appreciated!

For those who would still like to do so but just haven’t gotten round to it yet, just to let you know our last date for Frog Sponsorship package gifts being sent out is 17th December! A special letter of thanks together with the gift pack will be sent out directly to your person of your choice.

Museum Selection – Harlequin baubles

Harlequin Frog Sponsorship is £50, and also includes a lovely book on Frogs and Toads of the World by Chris Mattison, and the opportunity for an exclusive behind the scenes Museum vivarium visit where you and a friend will get to see our Harlequin Frogs, Atelopus varius, as well as all our other wonderful species up close.




Salamanders get Frozen 2

Many species of salamander survive at temperatures below freezing, including one from Siberia which is known for surviving deep freezes as low as −45 °C. That is seriously cold! In some cases, they have been known to remain frozen in permafrost for years, and upon thawing, simply walking off – slowly 🙂 Western and central European Fire Salamanders remain active even at temperatures as low as 1 °C, as Kasia here can testify to recently.

These cold blooded amphibians are masters at survival and have developed many adaptations to stay alive. All species secrete toxins over their skin that are poisonous to some extent if ingested. Some of the poisons possess tetrodotoxin, one of the most potent toxins known to science and more toxic than found in most poison-dart frogs. The toxicity varies depending on the species and the juveniles of many salamanders have toxins in their skin more potent than when they are adult. Interestingly, both temperature tolerance and skin toxicity in salamanders can also vary within the same species, depending on which population they come from. Fire Salamanders, Salamandra salamandra, are found in most of southern and central Europe, most commonly at altitudes between 250 and 1,000 metres.

Here’s a related clip for Sylvia and our younger followers..






Amphibian Foundation’s new Educational Program

As one of the scientific advisors of The Amphibian Foundation, based in Atlanta, Georgia, I am pleased to announce that they will soon provide an opportunity for those interested in pursuing a career in herpetology to participate in a new amphibian conservation research learning program – based outside of the classroom.

Established in 2016, for many years the Amphibian Foundation has been collaborating with partners to address the amphibian extinction crisis, for example their staff have been releasing captive-reared Gopher Frogs (Lithobates capito), Georgia’s rarest frog, into protected local habitats for more than 10 years.

Now, the Amphibian Foundation is launching its new Bridge Program, and from the beginning of January 2020 their scientific experts will mentor participants in the US through lab and field projects at their globally-recognized amphibian conservation centre based in Atlanta. All research projects will contribute to the conservation of threatened and endangered amphibians and participants will gain unique skills in biological research to help address the conservation needs of several endangered species.

The program offers two learning opportunities, both based on participant availability and their specific interests: The one-semester program combines common biological research topics, including restoration conservation, urban ecology, animal husbandry, and more;

The one-year program begins with the common biological topics followed by each participant designing and implementing a personal project with mentorship. Experienced Amphibian Foundation staff will work closely with participants in both programs to help them achieve personal and academic goals that will aim to support their future career.

Similar to a “gap year,” the program is available for people before, during, or after college, and graduates will leave with an understanding of how best to harness their passion for preserving wildlife.

More information on the program


Costa Rican Frog call app launched

You often hear frogs before you see them, if you see them at all! Each species of frog sounds different – some croak, some chirp, some even bark. Some sound like insects and others like birds! Just like people learn bird calls you can use this app to help you learn, record and analyse frog calls either for personal fun so that you can identify them or so that you can help with amphibian surveys.

This new app gives you useful information to help identify and learn 10 tropical frogs and their calls. There are genuine wild frog calls on the app that you can play back to learn their calls along with information on each frog species. The species on the app are ones you might see on the trails of La Selva Biological Station (Costa Rica), in other areas of Costa Rica and in many other parts of Central America.

You can also record your own frog calls using the microphone on your phone and create your own call library on your phone.

CROAC can also help you identify the frogs you can hear by analysing and identify the frog calls for you by only using your phone! It will give you some suggestions as to what the species might be in your recording.


Event thanks!

I would like to thank everyone who helped make last night’s Rhino conservation event such a success – We have had some amazing feedback and are so pleased that everyone enjoyed the evening to such an extent. Thank you to all the people who attended, our Manchester Metropolitan University colleagues who contributed greatly,  all who represented the many conservation organisations to help raise awareness of the plight of these incredible animals, our wonderfully enthusiastic and knowledgeable speakers, and our fantastic Kizomba dance teachers Abi and Tony. I would also very much like to thank all our museum staff who did a great job in supported the evening, without whom the event could not have taken place. Thank you all so much!


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(c) Luis Urena Photography


This Thursdays ‘Don’t let me go’ conservation evening proposes to be a wonderful night for all. Its a totally free event that starts promptly at 6pm with some wonderful presentations. Also joining us for the evening we have Abigail and Tony from Kizomba Noroeste, who will be providing some fabulous dance moves and introducing the African beat of Kizomba to all!