Frog Health Checks
ZSL and charity Froglife are calling for the public to look out for and report cases of sick and dead frogs – and other amphibians like toads and newts – in an attempt to expand vital research into the state of the nation’s amphibians.
The UK’s amphibians are being affected by two significant diseases, ranavirus and the chytrid fungus. The potentially devastating effects of chytrid fungus on the world's amphibians are becoming increasingly well known. Chytrid fungus has worryingly recently been found in the UK. Ranavirus, on the other hand, is almost unheard of but, kills thousands of frogs, toads and newts in the UK each year.
Scientists remain unsure of the extent to which amphibian populations are being affected by these diseases, and what the implications may be for the UK’s frogs, toads and newts.
Dr Andrew Cunningham, senior ZSL scientist, commented: ‘Amphibians are being devastated by disease on a global scale but we have only an extremely limited picture of what is going on in our own backyard.
A common frog (Rana temporaria) suffering from ranavirus infection
‘Reports of outbreaks across the UK are absolutely vital for ZSL’s continuing research and, in the long term, to ensure the survival of our extraordinary amphibians.'
Both diseases are harmless to humans, but in amphibians result in a variety of symptoms that could include lethargy, thinness or unexplained mass-deaths of adults or juvenile amphibians. Internal bleeding and open skin sores have also been reported.
The Frog Mortality Project has come to an end. However, amphibian health monitoring continues through the Garden Wildlife Health project. Members of the public who have come across amphibian deaths in their gardens are urged to submit their information on the Garden Wildlife Health website.
This information will then be used by ZSL in its research on diseases affecting UK amphibians.