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Gloucestershire

Amphibian and Reptile Group (GlosARG)

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GlosARG Blog

By GlosARG, Mar 20 2015 04:51PM

If you have been keeping an eye on the GlosARG Facebook page, www.facebook.com/glosarg, you will have noticed the first amphibian and reptile sightings of the season, as recorded by our members. So what are our hereptilian friends doing now they’ve woken up after their winter naps?




Reptiles spend as much time as possible in spring basking, in order to get their energy levels up. Energy is particularly important for reptiles and amphibians in spring as they need to find food to replace the reserves they used up whilst hibernating and to find a mate. Aside from restocking their reserves, mating is arguably the most important part of the year for reptiles and amphibians. This is because baby animals provide the next generation of reptiles and amphibians, who will carry on the species and carry their parent’s genes onward through evolutionary time.




You may have already noticed frogspawn in your garden pond, but you probably haven’t noticed any other signs of hereptile laying. Newts lay a single egg at a time, which they carefully wrap in vegetation overhanging a pond or lake. Reptiles and snakes lay small, leathery- or hard-shelled eggs in compost or rotting vegetation. The only common reptile in the UK that lays eggs is the grass snake (Natrix natrix). Slow worms, adders and common lizards incubate their eggs internally and are ovoviviparous. The word ovoviviparous means that the eggs break as the animal gives birth, so it would look like the reptile is giving birth to live young if you were watching.




But now is not the time for birthing, now is the time for finding a mate, courting her and fertilising her eggs. The young will start to hatch in summer, by which time we hope we all will have seen lots of frogs, toads, newts, snakes and lizards.




Next post will be later in the year.......



By GlosARG, Oct 18 2014 06:19PM

The days are getting shorter, leaves are falling from the trees and we are digging out our woolly jumpers from the depths of our wardrobes. In this part of the year I am often grasped by the impulse to find a nice warm corner somewhere, curl up and nap for an hour or two.


But I have the advantage of being warm-blooded (an endotherm), which means that as much I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning into the crisp, cold air of the rest of the house, I can and I do. For our herptilian friends life isn’t so simple. Being cold-blooded (ectotherms) reptiles and amphibians simply can’t generate enough of their own energy to go about their daily business at this time of year. This makes it much more laborious for them to even move, never mind hunting, digesting and mating.


The solution is hibernation – nature’s mega-nap. Reptiles tend to prefer hibernation spots, or hibernacula, such as log piles, hedgebanks, old stone walls or burrows. Frogs and toads may hibernate in compost heaps, under piles of dead vegetation or wood and any other dark, damp and well protected nook. Frogs and newts may also bury themselves in silt at the bottom of ponds. These hibernacula allow reptiles and amphibians to avoid the cold, harsh conditions of winter, whilst protecting them from predators.


If you have any of these features in your garden, it’s best not to disturb them in winter as reptiles and amphibians (and hibernating small mammals) may be present. Some species may wake in milder weather and top up on food supplies. However, waking a hibernating reptile or amphibian could be fatal to them as they use their last energy reserves to escape from you, whom they may see as a threat. If the animal cannot top up its energy reserves or find another suitable hibernacula, they may perish in the cold weather.


So as this cold weather draws in, don’t worry that you can’t see frogs, newts, snakes and lizards until Spring. They are safe and sound in their log piles, or muddy burrows. Personally, I’d rather be wrapped in a cosy blanket with a cup of tea…


By guest, Jul 21 2014 11:13AM

Welcome to GlosARG’s first ever blog post.


This blog is intended to provide all you lovely herptile lovers with news, opinions, anecdotes and trivia related to amphibians and reptiles. Please get in touch if you would like to contribute to the blog, either as a guest blogger or if there is something you would like to be included in one of our posts.


GlosARG works to raise awareness of reptiles and amphibians and their ecology, as well as protecting herptiles and improving habitats for them. Whilst we are interested in herptiles worldwide, our efforts are focused mainly on those that can be found in Gloucestershire:


Reptiles

• Common lizard

• Slow worm

• Grass snake

• Adder


Amphibians

• Great crested newt

• Smooth newt

• Palmate newt

• Common frog

• Common toad


Additional species that live in the UK, but have not been found in Gloucestershire are:


Reptiles

• Sand lizard

• Smooth snake


Amphibians

• Pool frog

• Natterjack toad


For more information, please see the Reptile and Amphibian pages of the website, or get in touch via the Contact Us page.


Other useful websites for learning about herptiles are given below.

http://www.froglife.org/

http://www.arc-trust.org/

http://www.ihs-web.org.uk/

http://www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/wildlife/species-a-z