From South Africa to Skipton



02 January 2019

Related Subject Area:
Animal Studies


Over Summer the Animal Management Centre had an unusual new addition – an African common toad who had unexpectedly hidden in a suitcase and travelled to the UK from South Africa. The toad was only discovered when the suitcase was opened, back in the UK. Given that there was no way to return the toad to his natural habitat, the Animal Management Centre was asked to give him a new home, where he could help teach students about the care of amphibians.

The toad, who has since been named Houdini, was introduced into the amphibian room this week. Before this, he was in quarantine for over 3 months due to the risk of him introducing disease to the other amphibians cared for at the Centre. In particular, symptoms of a disease called chytrid fungus were monitored for closely and tested for by a specialist exotics vet.

Chytrid fungus is one of the largest threats facing wild amphibian populations, second only to habitat loss. It is capable of infecting nearly every amphibian species on the planet and can cause rapid population declines, sometimes having a devastating effect in as little as a few weeks, threatening many species with extinction.

Although the Animal Management Centre usually only houses animals born in captivity, having an animal which has come in from the wild has helped to show the students the importance of quarantine procedures, as well as teaching more about chytrid fungus and the risks it presents to wild amphibian populations.

Houdini is now housed in an enclosure which has been designed by Level 2 students to replicate his natural environment and he will help to teach the students about animal husbandry, alongside all the other species housed at the centre.

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