Frogs and Toads in roadside drains

October 8th 2013

Article originally published in Assynt News during October 2013

Frogs and Toads in roadside drains

A chance conversation with Andy Summers, our ever conscientious Assynt Ranger, recently caused us to spend £2.99 at the Lochinver paper shop!

Andy had been speaking, mid-August, with an Assynt visitor, Daniele Muir, who devotes a lot of her time highlighting the risk to frogs, toads, newts, voles, shrews, mice, etc. which fall into roadside drains from where they have little or no chance of escape. If these animals don’t drown, which most of them do, they eventually die a slow death due to starvation and poisoning from the oil, diesel, etc. which gets washed into the drains.

Andy has been rescuing frogs and toads from the drains in the car park to the rear of Lochinver’s Tourist Information Centre since his conversation with Daniele so we thought we would have a look in the passing.

The first drain we looked down had two large toads ‘paddling’ about in it and the next had three! Andy has been scooping the animals out with one of those ‘fishing nets’ on a pole.

The one thing we did not want to do, and no one else should do either, is upset Highland Council by lifting their drain covers so after spending our £2.99, and giving Betty a good laugh when we explained why we wanted the net, we tried to scoop out one of the toads by passing the net into the drain through the longest slit in the metal drain cover.

Immediate success, the toad simply sat tight in the net and could be easily extricated by carefully pulling the net back through the drain cover. The toad was placed well away from the drain in some vegetation where after a few minutes it quite happily wandered away.
Within five minutes we had rescued eight toads in total from four drains in the car park; the toads ranged in size from a couple of inches to around four inches in length.

To give an idea of just how many amphibians are at risk here are Andy’s (and our) rescues since his meeting with Daniele, and a photo of one of our rescued toads.

Common Toad rescued from road gulley
Common Toad rescued from road gulley

15th August 21 toads (5 dead)

22nd August 12 toads (alive)

1st Sept. 10 toads (alive)

16th Sept. 10 toads, 1 palmate newt (alive)

24th Sept. 8 toads (alive; our rescue)

So if you have £2.99 and want to give Betty more to laugh about pop in and buy her stock of, now rebranded, amphibian rescue nets and get busy looking down drains!

It would also be really useful if you could keep a note of how many animals you do rescue and from where so that the information is available for future reference.

You might want to have a look at this two minute clip from youtube which shows what Perth and Kinross Council have done with regards to this nationwide, and wider, problem.

D and A Haines

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