23 September 2011

Scared of Snakes? Help is at Hand...

Over the years, Froglife staff have tried to help members of the public rationalise their phobia of snakes. Particularly in the UK, where the animals are generally harmless, a strong fear of going anywhere near them can cause unnecessary stress for both humans and snakes, and in the worst instances lead to their persecution. We were really interested in reading about Anxiety UK’s work to help people tackle their irrational fears.

The mental health charity’s ‘Face your Fears’ week starts next week from Monday 26th September until the 2nd of October. Amongst other events is an Animal Encounter workshop in Manchester on Monday, where you can come face to face with snakes and spiders. More information about Face Your Fears is available hereFurther help and advice on phobias is also available on their website here.

Through discussions with people at events and through our Wildlife Information Service it seems that fear of snakes and also of frogs and toads can lead to people feeling so anxious about their presence they want them removed from their garden. In some cases they might ‘frog-proof’ their outdoor space, or perhaps even kill or injure animals.
Froglife's giant cuddly grass-snake is always a big hit with young people
In contrast to this, we also meet all sorts of people, young and old, who are fascinated by reptiles and amphibians and will do anything to help them, including encouraging them into their gardens and becoming a Froglife Friend to support conservation work. In many cases, interested adults have inspired children not to be afraid of the animals but to quietly observe them, and through this early exposure, spark a life-long fascination.

Froglife sympathises with anyone with a phobia and recognises how debilitating this can be. However, our job to protect reptiles and amphibians would be a lot easier if these misunderstood animals were more loved! Help for phobias is out there, and the old expression is also true - the animals are much more scared of you than you are of them, often with good reason.
Froglife's work to conserve reptiles and amphibians in the wild could not continue without your help.  You can find out more about supporting our work here.

Photo: Tracy Roberts

21 September 2011

Toadally brilliant new ponds!

Common Toads at Glencryan Woods, North Lanarkshire, were so impressed with a new pond dug by Froglife that they decided that they simply couldn’t wait until next spring to breed in it.
Common toads in the new pond in North Lanarkshire
The pond dug as part of the North Lanarkshire Living Water project had only been created in mid May and Froglife staff had resigned themselves to waiting till next spring before seeing any real amphibian action in the pond. However, the toads had different ideas and their characteristic spawn strings suddenly appeared in the pond in July!

Living Water Field Worker Iain Maclean describes his surprise and delight at finding the spawn. “This is a very uncommon occurrence as the breeding season for toads generally ends in April," said Iain. "Why the toads suddenly spawned is a bit of a mystery. However, despite being newly created, the pond offers ideal conditions for toad tadpoles as the water is warm and invertebrate predators have yet to colonise the pond.”

With more pond creation planned for the coming months, there will be plenty of opportunities for willing volunteers to help toads and get their hands dirty. All upcoming events are advertised on Froglife’s website and if you want to find out a bit more, or register your interest, you can email Iain.Maclean@froglife.org

Photo: Rob Williams