World Frog Day
By Rebecca Dickinson
Frogs are amphibians – animals which are typically born in water and gradually develop into animals that live on the land.
They can be found all over the world, in every continent except Antarctica, although the majority are found in tropical climates. Frogs are a keystone species; they have a significant impact on their ecosystem. They are an important indicator of an ecosystem’s health and balance.
Threats Frogs Face
There are almost 5,000 species of frogs worldwide, but due to the disease, habitat destruction, pollution and changing climates the majority of species are under threat.
Frogs are particularly threatened by the fungal infection Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis – a disease which affects amphibians around the world and can wipe out entire populations.
Frogs at Askham Bryan Wildlife and Conservation Park
We have a number of tree frogs at the park. Tree frogs are a diverse family with over 800 species and, even though not all of them live in trees, they all have similar features; the last toes on their feet are shaped like a claw and they have toe pads that help them climb trees. The tree frogs that are on site include the Chinese tree frog (Hyla chinensis), White’s tree frog (Litoria caerula) and the red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas).
Poison dart frogs gain their poison through specific foods that they eat. The beautiful and brightly coloured dart frogs we have at the wildlife park include green and black dart frogs (Dendrobates auratus), the blue dart frog (Dendrobates tinctorius azureus) and phantasmal dart frog (Epipedobates tricolor). The phantasmal dart frog is listed as Endangered on the IUCN red list due to the threats of pollution to waterways.
We also have the golden mantella (Mantella aurantiaca) from Madagascar, which are Critically Endangered due to the habitat destruction. On show are the cutest: the Amazon milk frogs (Trachycephalus resinifictrix). Milk frogs are also a poisonous frog they secrete white substances through their skin, which helps protect them from potential predators.
African bullfrogs (Pyxicephalus adspersus) are the largest South African frog, with some making it to the size of the dinner plate and females growing larger than males.
How can you help?
- Raise awareness on the threats that amphibians face and how important they are to the ecosystems
- Make your garden amphibian friendly with natural barks and ponds if possible for them to arrive on their own accord
- Support amphibian conservation by donating to charities that protect amphibains and their habitats, such as Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, the Freshwater Habitats Trust or FrogLife.