Frogs, toads emerge to soak up Vancouver rain, UBC prof. says

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Look out for frogs on roads and walkways after heavy rains, says a UBC professor who specializes in amphibians.

John Richardson from the Forest and Conservation Sciences department says frogs, toads, salamanders, and more are venturing from their hiding spots under logs and rocks to soak up the wet weather.

“It’s fun to imagine frogs kind of coming out and doing happy dances in the rain, but the reality is amphibians are pretty sensitive to dry [conditions], and we’ve had pretty dry weather the last six months,” he says.

Wetlands are also drier than usual after a hot summer that saw a vicious wildfire season. That’s trouble for amphibians, who breathe through their skin.

“They really do like moist and cool conditions, so you don’t really see frogs sitting out in the open when it’s dry and hot,” he says. “That’s why people might start to see them more commonly.”

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There are only about 20 species of amphibians across the entire province of B.C., most commonly including the Western Tree Frog, Red-Legged Frog, and Oregon Spotted Frog. The latter is highly endangered in the Lower Mainland.

Bullfrogs are an invasive species, which Richardson calls “a problem” for displacing native species. Also among B.C.’s top amphibian species are Pacific Tree Frogs and four types of salamanders.

The time of year that’s most problematic for frogs and toads is the spring, when the adults come back to ponds, he says. They leave later in the summer, when many are killed by motorists.

To help keep them safe, there are places near Chilliwack where they close the roads each year to allow millions of toadlets to cross roads on their migration routes. Some people have even built amphibian tunnels to help them on their way.

“After a rainfall like this, there is a possibility that there will be more amphibians on the roads,” says Richardson.

It’s against the law to touch and move wildlife like frogs in Canada, so if you see them, it’s best to leave them alone.

With files from Charlie Carey.

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