Rescuing lost amphibians
So what's the big deal about releasing a rescued amphibian (frog, salamander, spadefoot) into a local pond or marsh? Don't frogs and spadfoots need to live near water?
They do need water (sometimes), but releasing a lost amphibian into an area where it might not have originally came from can be dangerous for several reasons.
One of the biggest dangers is a fungal disease called Chytrid. It is highly contagious and can be lethal. If an infected amphibian is accidentally released into a non-infected pond, it could be disastrous for every other
frog, salamander, and spadefoot there. The same goes for releasing a non-infected frog into an infected pond.
Even without the threat of disease, a big beautiful pond still might not be the perfect home, because if there are fish present (either native or invasive species), that released amphibian and any eggs it might lay will probably become food.
The last reason, which is more specific to Spadefoots and Tiger Salamanders, is that these two amphibians actually spend most of their lives in the grasslands! Both these species burrow into our loose soils to escape the heat and dry weather. They still need ponds for breeding, but these ponds can be small, temporary ponds from spring melt and rains. Moving a Spadefoot or Tiger Salamander too far away to a "better" pond or marsh can result in them getting lost and not being able to find their dry, grassy homes again.
What is a Spadefoot anyway??
are the fastest transforming amphibian in the Okanagan, transforming from egg to adult form in a few weeks;
can lose up to half of their weight in water during dry periods;
cover themselves in a blanket of mucous while underground to prevent drying out;
Males make a loud snoring sound in spring to attract females;
are provincially “blue-listed”, of special concern, largely due to habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation, road mortality, pollution such as pesticides, and introduced invasive species.
9 steps to help Spadefoots and conserve wetlands:
retain native plants and loose, sandy soils in your yard;
avoid pesticide use on land and around water;
retain non-toxic cover objects, such as logs or non-treated wooden garden ornaments in your yard;
retain vegetation buffers around ponds;
outfit your pool with a “froglog”;
provide an alternate water source and limit livestock access to wetlands;
report Spadefoot sightings to Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society or BC Frogwatch (firstname.lastname@example.org);
Get outside and enjoy your local wetlands!