Written by Chloe Davey, Transforming Lives Trainee
Usually when you ask someone what their favourite animal is, the answer is typically either some kind of mammal or reptile. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that as there are many amazing species all over the world. The popularity of these kinds of animals could possibly be due to ideologies pushed towards the public eye, influencing their views on certain animals for better or for worse. This means that amphibians are often overlooked except for frogs and axolotls whose popularity with the younger generation have risen greatly over the last few years. So, I would like to express what makes amphibians so wonderful. Why should they be given more love and recognition?
As we know, amphibians are cold-blooded vertebrates that live on land and in water. They cannot generate their own body heat, instead they rely on the temperature of their environment. They will bask in the rising sun, absorbing the warm rays and preparing them for the day ahead. Did you know that amphibians are an ancient species? It’s true! Amphibians have been around for 340 million years!
Amphibians from around the world can come in many beautiful, vibrant colours but this means they are also incredibly toxic! Despite not being very colourful though, our very own common toad has a toxin which is used to deter predators although grass snakes seem to be unaffected by it.
Life begins in the water as eggs, newts will fold plant leaves over their eggs for better protection from predators. Once they are born, they have gills which allow them to breathe underwater and a long tail to help them swim.
During development they have the amazing ability to metamorphose. This means they can change their body structure, how cool is that? They grow arms and legs which slowly replace the tail over time. Some amphibians, like newts for example, will continue to develop their tail. They develop lungs which allow them to breathe air, replacing gills. Even without gills though, amphibians have special skin that allows them to breathe underwater by absorbing the oxygen.
Currently there are over 8,200 known species worldwide. Sadly, there are around 2,490 that are classified as endangered. I’m grateful that in the UK we have seven species of our very own including frogs, toads and newts. It may not seem like much, but we should protect them while we still have the chance.
If you’d like to learn more about our native amphibians, check out our web page.