Written by Madeleine Barnes, Transforming Lives Trainee.
As we bundle up at home to survive the chilly weather, so do reptiles and amphibians. As they are ectotherms (cold-blooded), heat is very important to their regular functions and so they ‘hibernate’ through the cold in cozy places such as hibernacula, log piles, hedgerows, the deepest areas of ponds, or under rocks and leaves. We won’t be seeing much of our species until next year.
Hibernation is a blanket term to describe the lowered activity of many species in the winter, but in the UK only 3 animals undergo true hibernation: bats, hedgehogs and dormice.
The species Froglife conserve overwinter or brumate, meaning they may become active for brief periods if the weather warms up. To help them out, avoid disturbing piles of natural matter (e.g. log, rocks, leaves) and if you are able to do so safely, clear the surface of frozen ponds from fallen leaves or snow to allow sunlight to reach the depths – this will allow submerged plants to photosynthesise and produce oxygen for any amphibians waiting out the winter down there!
You can find further tips on how to look after amphibians and reptiles during winter here.
If you spot any of our species out and about during winter, please remember to record them on our free Dragon Finder App. Data from the Dragon Finder App is crucial going forward to monitor the relationship between temperature changes and the behaviours of reptiles and amphibians in the UK.