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Mapping Manx amphibians 13 April 2007

An Isle of Man College student is investigating the distribution of alien amphibians on the Island. Anyone who knows of sites with toads or newts is asked to get in touch.

A number of amphibians have been introduced to the Island but there is almost no information about these species and their distributions. As part of a placement with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Luke Simpson is investigating the growing population of toads and newts, both amphibians of which are not native to the island. These amphibians have been introduced over the years either by accident or by importation through garden centres or other means.

The common toad, if you happen to come across one, is larger and bulkier than the common frog, with dry, warty skin. It has a tendency to crawl, rather than jump like a frog does, and when spawning produces single strings of eggs, rather than clumps of spawn like a frog does.

The three newt species that have been reported in the past few years are the great crested newt, the palmate newt and the smooth newt, though any newt sightings should be reported.

Newts are sometimes confused with lizards. Although they are clearly separable when newts are living in water, they can appear similar to the uninitiated when living on land being of a similar size and shape. Lizards have a scaly skin though, which newts do not.

Remember though, under the Wildlife Act 1990, it is illegal to move or disturb frogs, and frog spawn, without a licence, so please don’t capture them.

If you find any toads or newts, or know about the history and origins of these species on the Isle of Man, it would be greatly appreciated if you could contact Luke, on (07624) 435428, or via the Wildlife and Conservation Division of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry at Knockaloe Farm on (01624) 843109.

Any sightings you can report would be a great help. In return, you will be helping to monitor biodiversity of our beautiful islands wildlife and their habitats by allowing us to discern patterns of population increases or decreases and help us to protect, in particular, our precious native species.

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