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Caring For Our Collection During COVID-19

It warms our hearts to hear that despite the difficult times brought on by the on-going pandemic, so many of our dedicated frog sponsors and visitors still think about our collection, and wonder about our frogs as the University of Manchester as well as the Museum remain closed.


We would like to take this opportunity to reassure our frogblog readers and friends of our collection that all of our animals are still receiving the highest standards of care.
As the health and safety of our staff remain paramount during the virus outbreak, we have worked hard to devise a working schedule that accommodates the recommended social distancing guidelines, while continuing as key workers to provide all of the necessary resources and daily care for our collection.

In short, for our animals, nothing has changed (and if anything, our Fijian Iguana just loves grapes now more than ever.)


Disappearing like Tears in the Rain



Online resources for children

Here you can download some environmental education activity worksheets – Why not print them all off and create a supper booklet for children to enjoy:


It’s full of things to do, and can be used a great resource to base further activities on!

Aimed at Primary school level learning, and featuring Lucy Marland and the conservation of the Lemur Leaf Frog, these educational worksheets are supported visually by a series of 3 short videos (which I invite you to watch below)

The resources are available in both English and Spanish Languages by following the link at the bottom of this post..

Emergency Fundraising Appeal

For many young people in the local area it’s more important than ever that Inspire Chorley Youth Zone continues to be there for them. Behind the scenes their amazing team are busy planning for all eventualities.

Even if schools close the will remain available or young people, although the offering will be adjusted to meet the needs of their most vulnerable members. No young person should go hungry, feel isolated or left to cope in difficult circumstances, so are they’re doing all they can do to be there for the young people in the area. Their plans are evolving but includes the following provisions:

Access to a lunch club with limited sessions for those receiving free school meals, under child protection plans and being supported by the Family Health and Well being service.
Dedicated helpline and proactive contact for young people considered most vulnerable and in crisis.
Extension of detached youth work and outreach services within the community.
Daily social media live sessions from Youth Zone’s gym and dance instructors, arts experts etc.
Support to the local community in the delivery of essential supplies to the elderly and the possibility of day care support for emergency/ essential services.

However the largest challenge they are now facing is to ensure they’ve  the finances available to deliver the above and to be able to pay their staff who are bravely supporting the most vulnerable young people.


They need to make urgent changes to their programmes to adapt to the situation and protect the young people they work with – But at the same time, the coronavirus is putting our plans at risk and they’re facing a huge drop in income.

To balance their budget in 2020, they are dependent on thousands of pounds in income but with the cancellation / postponement of many events and uncertainty for many, there plans are now at risk and as many of their supporters will know, they are a young charity with very limited financial reserves.

If you’re able to, please make an emergency donation now and help them keep their work on track through the coronavirus health crisis.



Recent at INSPIRE

Covid Karma

Who would have thought humans could have so much interest in their population numbers, limiting their air travel so, thinking twice about what they buy, or even how wisely they limit the use of paper in their homes.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the Planet has its own plan.


West Midlands Presentation

Amphibian Foundation Bridge Program

The Amphibian Foundation, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia, has announced that their the new Bridge Program for Conservation Research has now been launched. On the program 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.

I have just been sent the following information to share with you: here is a  flyer to share with others who might be interested in the new program. For more information, visit their website at


What is the Bridge Program?

AF’s Bridge Program offers the opportunity for adult students to explore and conduct research focused on the conservation of imperiled amphibians in the southeast United States. This academic program is designed to help students gain career experience and scientific skills. Students are mentored by globally-recognized scientists and directly contribute to the conservation of amphibians.

Who can apply? 

All interested adults (age 18+) can apply to AF’s Bridge Program. The program is intended for:

  • high school graduates who want to explore conservation and gain skills before attending college
  • college students who want research experience during their studies
  • college graduates seeking opportunities to develop their biology and conservation training

Where is the program located? When does it start?

The Amphibian Foundation is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, US. Students are required to be on site during the session. The summer session runs May 11 to August 21, 2020 (deadline for deposit is Saturday, April 11, 2020). The fall session starts September 8, 2020 (deadline for deposit is Saturday, August 8, 2020).

What is the curriculum?

Unique to the Bridge Program, the developed curriculum is specifically tailored for each student based on conservation interests and career goals. All curriculum includes contextualized instruction, opportunities to explore areas of specialization, and career development and transition into conservation research. Students rotate working in the captive propagation (breeding) and husbandry labs of diverse reptiles and amphibians, including threatened and endangered amphibians, and participate in

  • field work (e.g., contributing to research projects monitoring flatwoods salamanders and gopher frogs)
  • guided research (e.g., designing a project, drafting manuscripts)
  • creative expression (e.g., illustration, photography, writing)
  • education and outreach

Our program also includes certificate courses in Master Herpetologist and Venomous Reptile Handling.

For more information, visit: http://bridge.amphibianfoundation.org/


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..