How To Help Protect Frogs, Toads and Salamanders
Ohio is home to about 40 amphibian species and at least five of these are endangered, including the Eastern spadefoot toad and the cave salamander. Worldwide, the populations of frogs, toads and salamanders have been showing rapid decreases due to a combination of disease, habitat destruction and climate change. In some cases the exotic pet trade has contributed to the decline, with large numbers of saleable species being taken from the wild. In the case of amphibians, individuals don’t need to sit back and watch a species become extinct, as there are plenty of practical ways to help with their conservation. Learn more here.
Dig a Pond
Create a wildlife pond in your yard, if practical. With one of the main problems that amphibians face being a loss of potential breeding sites, this is an obvious way to help and the pond does not have to be very big. You don’t actually need to do anything once the pond is filled with water; local wildlife will find it. If you want to speed up the process, introduce some native aquatic plants and a bucket of water and sediment from an established pond in the area. Don’t add ornamental fish, which are likely to eat any tadpoles.
As well as ponds, amphibians need safe terrestrial habitats, and they are highly sensitive to pollution. Pesticides are toxic to both amphibians and the invertebrates they eat, while fertilizers contribute to harmful algal blooms in freshwater. You could also supply a loose stack of scrap wood and areas of thick vegetation, to provide hiding and resting places for adult frogs and toads.
All the usual green tips, such as driving less, help the conservation of local wildlife, whether directly or indirectly. In particular, taking steps to reduce the amount of soil and water pollution your household produces could have an immediate impact. Use the minimum amount of household cleaning products and choose “green” alternatives, such as vinegar, where possible. Dispose of hazardous waste, such as used motor oil and batteries, safely. If you are not sure where to dispose of such materials, contact local government or consult the Environmental Protection Agency website.
Before conservation plans are implemented, scientists need data on threatened animals, so they know what needs to be done and where. In Ohio, members of the public can help by recording data on frog and toad breeding sites. Contact Ohio Amphibians to volunteer to cover an area in your county, and follow their detailed instructions exactly. If you come across a population of spadefoot toads, whether during your survey or at another time, you should also contact this group. Alternatively, phone the Ohio Division of Wildlife, Wildlife Management and Research Group on (614) 265 6300. The distribution of this endangered species is being monitored closely.
Acquire Captive-Bred Exotic Pets
If a member of your household wants pet amphibians, or indeed any other exotic pets including reptiles and aquarium fish, ensure that you have the right equipment and that the animals were bred in captivity, not taken from the wild. A local breeder or an animal sanctuary is the best option, not a pet shop. If you do buy from a general pet store or online, ask the seller questions about the origin of the animals. If the seller seems unsure or evasive, go somewhere else. If the animals in question are endangered, or you suspect that they are, consider contacting the authorities. Many endangered amphibians and other exotic pets are legally protected, at least to some extent. Never release unwanted exotics into the wild. If they survive, they can cause serious problems for native wildlife.