The warm temperatures of the past few weeks have awakened amphibians from hibernation. Because awake amphibians use more of their remaining fat stores, they run the risk of not having enough reserves to make it through spring, Natuurpunt warns. The conservation association fears that the mild winters are already endangering the common toads.
In temperate climate zones such as Flanders, amphibians accumulate fat reserves in the summer, which they need to get through their hibernation. The metabolism of the hibernating animals is very slow, so they use few reserves. However, a mild winter speeds up the metabolism, so that the animals use up their fat supply more quickly.
If they go into hibernation again at the next winter prick, they may not have enough reserves left to continue snoring until spring. The animals that do survive suffer from a relatively weak physical condition, as a result of which they lay fewer and less quality eggs.
This chain reaction worries Natuurpunt. Based on a study in the United Kingdom and Switzerland, which shows that toad populations are constantly declining, the conservation association fears that the common toad will become less and less common in our country as well. Moreover, a mild winter is not the only challenge facing the amphibians in our country.
During a too cold winter with pools frozen over for a long time, swamp gases such as methane and hydrogen sulfide could accumulate and the amphibians in the pools could die from suffocation. A dry and warm summer with low groundwater levels is also not without danger.
Natuurpunt initially hopes for a winter with freezing temperatures until mid-February and sufficient rain to replenish the groundwater supplies. The nature conservation association asks local managers of toad transfer actions to make preparations earlier. Last year, toad migration peaked on February 16.
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