Ohhhhh… It’s that time of year when little critters start to wake from their long winters nap (hibernation). Spring’s a busy time and here’s some information on the 3 species awakening from hibernation in Ireland during February and March.
The Common Frog
The common frog is one of those yawning and stretching at the minute getting ready for the busy frog spawn season ahead. Here are some facts to share with your Little Explorer.
Average life expectancy 10 – 15 years.
The Common Frog (Rana temporaria) is the only species of frog found in Ireland.
There are three species of amphibians found in Ireland – the Natterjack Toad , the Smooth Newt and the Common Frog. The Natterjack toad is extremely rare and is confined to a few areas in Counties Kerry and Wexford.
Frogs are amphibians which means they can survive in the water and on land.
When frogs leap they draw eyes their back into their sockets to protect them from damage.
A frog’s skin is loose on its body and moist. Under the water they breathe through their skin.
The colourful patterns on the frog’s skin help to disguise it from enemies such as rats, herons and hedgehogs. A frog can also make its skin become darker to match its surroundings. This colour change takes about two hours.
Frogs have four fingers and five toes. The webbed feet are like flippers and help the frog to swim away from danger very fast. The frog’s hind legs are very muscular which helps it to swim in the water and leap on land
Frogs feed on slugs, insects, worms, spiders and similar prey.
In winter frogs hide in frost-free refuges, under tree stumps, in stacks of turf, or in rock piles where they enter torpor until the following spring.
They breed around February and spawn around March, Tadpoles hatch and grow from April to May, Tadpoles metamorphose into froglets, and leave the pond in June/July.
Human hands have natural salts and oils that can irritate a frog’s skin, so handling the animals with dry hands can cause severe problems for them, even death; so, wash and keep them moist if you must touch them.
Another critter awakening from a long winter’s hibernation is the adorable Gráinneog or Hedgehog. 🦔 A personal absolute fave of my own, the gráinneog’s are thankfully plentiful in nature so keep your eyes peeled if you’re out for a night time or early morning walk.
Here’s some facts but remember you can watch our Wildlife Wednesday video here.
Young hedgehogs are called ‘pups’ or ‘hoglets’
The average lifespan is 3 years but they can live up to 10 years.
Hedgehogs have poor eyesight but a great sense of smell – so good that they can even smell the scent of an earthworm underground.
Hedgehogs can swim but can become trapped in pools and ponds with steep sides.
As many as 500 fleas live amongst a hedgehogs’ spines! Hedgehogs can wander for up to 3 km a night in search of food.
The Latin for ‘hedgehog’ is Erinaceus which means ‘spiky wall’.
The Irish word for hedgehog is ‘gráinneog’ – meaning ‘horrible one’!
Apart from the nine species of bat, the hedgehog is the only Irish mammal that undergoes true hibernation usually from October to March.
The last of the critters awakening from winter hibernation in Ireland are our beautiful ialtóg or bats.
Bats are mammals. This means that they have fur covered bodies, they are warm blooded and give birth to live young. Mothers feed their newborn babies milk. Bats are the only mammals that can undertake true powered flight.
Nine species have been confirmed resident in Ireland.
1. Common pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)
2. Soprano pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus)
3. Nathusius’ pipistrelle (Pipistrellus nathusii)
4. Leisler’s bat (Nyctalus leisleri)
5. Brown long-eared bat (Plecotus auritus)
6. Daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentonii)
7. Whiskered bat (Myotis mystacinus)
8. Natterer’s bat (Myotis nattereri)
9. Lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros)
Visit https://www.batconservationireland.org/ for some absolutely fantastic information on these beauties.
To learn more about Irish wildlife, check out our Irish Wildlife Directory here.
Stay safe but ‘Go Explore’!