Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Providing Sanctuary

“I just installed my new clothes washer and now I have a frog in my basement. How do I tell if it is a native species and if so, what should I do with it?”

You may or may not know this, but there are animals who migrate to Wisconsin that aren’t South American birds. Whether they arrive via tropical houseplant, new appliance, or even hitching a ride on our own vehicles; these animals usually migrate here unintentionally. Although not extremely common, be aware when bringing foreign items into your home that this may be the case. Most importantly, if you find a reptile or amphibian that you suspect might be an immigrant, even if it appears to look like a native species, always contact a local rehabilitator, conservation warden, reptile or other wildlife specialist before releasing it. If the animal is not from this area it may not be able to adapt and will suffer, or worse yet, it may learn to adapt which can ultimately lead to serious consequences for competing native species.

More often however, the frogs and salamanders people find in their basements are native and have come in via much more common ways like our sump-pump wells. This frog was unfortunate enough to have been discovered on a, albeit seasonably warm, still cold, November day. By then the ground was too cold and the time too short for any amphibian to successfully prepare for hibernation. These situations turn out best if a rehabilitator or knowledgeable reptile specialist can “over-winter” the animal and properly release it when the temperatures are warmer. Last year we ended up over-wintering several young snakes and a frog. It is only December and this year we already have 2 frogs and a snake looking at a warm cozy winter with us. These little guys need lots of protein to stay healthy through the winter so if you would like to sponsor either of them by making a donation for their care please contact us.

If you are looking for more information about amphibians and reptiles in the Midwest you can also consult with the Midwest Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation at

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