Spate of frog deaths has wildlife experts concerned

Dr Duan March with Ella Petrohelos at Mary Help of Christians School.

 

FROGS are sick and dying along the Coffs Coast, and it’s causing scientists concern.

All along the East Coast “reports are coming in of multiple frogs being found shrivelled and turning brown on people’s lawns,” said Southern Cross University’s Dr David Newell.

“It’s unusual to see dead frogs because most frogs are secretive in nature and decompose rapidly out of sight when they die.”

The worryingly high number of deaths is likely to be caused by a fungal pathogen – amphibian chytrid fungus – but scientists want to be certain and are calling on the community to help monitor the situation.

Coffs vet Dr Duan March from Wildlife Solutions told News Of The Area, “The concern has come to a head in the last few weeks and we’ve been collecting samples which we’re sending to SCU Lismore, where Dr David Newell’s team is doing research into what is causing it.

“We have a young champion here in Sawtell.

“Ella Petrohelos (9), who goes to Mary Help of Christians school, is on the ball collecting sick and injured frogs; she’s been a little trooper,” said Dr Duan.

Ella told News Of The Area, “After finding two dead green tree frogs in my yard I emailed the scientists from The Australian Museum, who are doing research on the frogs dying along our coast.

“The next day I was searching our yard for signs of any live frogs and noticed one in our drain.

“I contacted Dr Karrie Rose (Veterinary Pathologist, Australian Registry of Wildlife Health) and she asked me to put the green tree frog in a fish tank and to keep it warm and hydrated with diluted electrolyte or Gatorade.

“I was asked to document and observe the frog for 24hrs.

“He looked like he was doing well, so with the advice from Duan March we decided to release the frog where I found him.

“The next day I checked and noticed that he was gone, but found a dwarf green tree frog dead in the same location.

“This made me really worried, and I knew something was very wrong.

“I met with Duan, and I handed over the dwarf frog for testing.

“A few weeks later we found the frog that I released resting on our lawn, very sick and weak.

“I put him in my tank, but it unfortunately passed away on our way to meet Duan.

“I have had some friends contact Mum and me with similar stories and asking for advice.”

Ella has recently made a frog hotel in her yard using PVC pipes and a plant pot in the hope for frogs to come and visit.

“Here are some things you can do if you find a frog.

“Find a clean container or fish tank for the frog to feel comfortable.

“Use single-use gloves or a plastic bag to be safe when handling the frogs.

“Keep frogs warm and hydrated by spraying them with diluted electrolyte solution.

“Any dead frogs should be placed in a zip locked bag with the date and location on it and placed in the freezer.”

Once Sydney is out of lockdown the frogs will be collected by the Australian Museum.

Report sick or dead frogs to FrogID – email: [email protected], with details, images and location, if possible.

John Grant from WIRES told News Of The Area, “WIRES has received numerous calls from concerned members of the public about dead, dying and sick frogs across all species but predominantly green tree frogs.

“We are reporting all cases to the Australian Registry of Wildlife Health.”

Rose Avenue Vet Hospital in Coffs is set-up to help with sick frogs locally – (02) 6652 1566.

 

By Andrea FERRARI

 

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