Landscape Tips to Help Okanagan Amphibians

Shallow Sloping Sides

Many amphibians prefer to breed in temporary pools and relatively shallow water, often in water only a few centimetres deep! To help amphibians with courting and spawning make sure that ponds and water features on your site (fountains) have gently sloping sides or rocks structures. The sloping sides or rocks will allow species like the spadefoot to crawl out and make its way to the surrounding grasslands to feed and burrow underground.

Fish

Fish feed on amphibian eggs, larvae, and even adults. The widespread introduction of both native and non-native fish into historically fishless habitats is a major cause of amphibian declines in this area. To help the amphibians, please keep your water features free of fish!

Vegetation

Many amphibians court and spawn among vegetation at the edges of pools, often attaching eggs to the base of plants below the water surface. Help amphibians by maintaining native plants such as sedges and cattails along the edges of ponds. The vegetation will also shade the water providing hiding places for adults and larvae and helping to prevent algae build-up.

Surrounding Vegetation

Some amphibians like to bask on rocks, mud banks or beneath shallow water while others prefer to remain concealed in thick vegetation or in the shade to stay cool. Providing basking rocks, shallow mud banks, and a mix of native vegetation creates a variety of habitats to suit species preferences. The surrounding native vegetation also helps filter out environmental contaminants.

Pumps

To keep amphibians from being sucked into or injured by a pump and its intake keep your pumps on lower levels and with cover screens on. Cover screens can be purchased for most pumps.

Pesticides and Herbicides

Pesticides and amphibians do not mix! A wide variety of commonly used weed and insect poisons have been shown to have detrimental effects on amphibians.Chemical pesticides should not be used in the vicinity of ponds used by amphibians. If you have to use pesticides follow the directions on the label. This will ensure the least amount of damage.

Mosquito Control

Mosquitoes do not like moving water so adding an aerator or circulating pump to an amphibian pool or wetland to prevent mosquitoes larvae surviving to maturity.

Fertilizers

Did you know that amphibian larvae need oxygen in the water to breath? Using fertilizers can promote the growth of algae – resulting in algae blooms! Try to limit the use of any chemicals near lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands. Substituting non chemical methods of fertilizing and weed removal near wetlands can have very positive effects on the amphibians in your area.

Cleaning Water Features

Amphibians start laying eggs in mid April and can be in the water until mid August. If possible, avoid this amphibian breeding period for pond cleaning. Clean and drain your pond either before April or after August. Even so, you may find young (and adult) tiger salamanders that may have overwintered in the pond. If you have tiger salamanders in your pool/pond, collect and keep the young in cool pond water while you clean the pond, then return them! If no tiger salamanders are present you can drain your pool/pond after mid August for winter cleaning. The later the better!

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