What our animals are doing this month…. February 2019 Edition
It’s probably not quite hot enough for many of our amphibians to get back into the swing of things, but by mid to late February it’s likely some amphibians will be moving back to ponds and for our common frog even breeding / laying frogspawn.
Smooth newts may have made their way back to ponds within the month of February after traversing some difficult terrain on their travels from overwintering areas to a pond. But how do they make this journey through what may be areas of tall, dense vegetation back to their breeding pond? The majority of amphibians return to the same pond year after year – hence they must have some form of navigation. For smooth newt and great crested newt, they use their sense of smell to navigate back to the pond as well as the calls of common toad. However, if smooth or great crested newts are displaced away from their home range – their sense of smell and hearing won’t be adequate to navigate back to their preferred pond.
The palmate newt has displayed an additional method of navigation however using a sense called magnetoreception. This sense acts a geomagnetic compass the palmate newt can use to find its way back to its breeding pond, even if displaced up to 19km outside of its range.