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Mystery in Kildare after discovery of 250 dead frogs

Samples have now been sent to a lab in the UK to examine the cause of the mass die-off.

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A LAKE IN The Curragh, Kildare, has been tested this morning after hundreds of frog corpses were found around it.

The Herpetological Society of Ireland collected samples from the frogs and the water this morning to send for analysis after obtaining an emergency licence from the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) last night. There were between 250 and 300 dead frogs discovered.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie today, Rob Gandola, a member of the society, said there are a number of possible causes of this huge frog die-off:

  1. Predators. Sometimes frogs are targeted during spawning season by animals such as rats because they are a bit distracted by the task in hand and are then easy targets because the are worn out after all the frog love-making.
  2. The Ranavirus, which causes internal haemorrhaging. Gandola said it is “particularly nasty” to amphibians and can be difficult to detect.
  3. Chytrid, a pathogenic water fungus which invades the immune system, giving the animals a crusty appearance.

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Initial water sample results show no signs of pollution but frog samples will now be sent off to a lab in the UK to look for signs of a virus or fungus.

Gandola said the dead frogs found today did have a slightly crust appearance with cracking and some tearing in the skin around their joints. This could be an indicator of Chytrid but he stressed it was too early to tell and the appearance of the frogs could be down to a number of other factors like the recent windy weather.

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The society dealt with a similar situation last year in Waterford but results from the lab were inconclusive. There have been no reported instances of either the virus or the fungus in Ireland but Gandola said this may be because people rarely report mass die-offs like this when they spot them.

“We hope to be able to encourage people to report it when they see it,” he added.

A spokesperson for the NPWS said it is not aware of any previous reports of this nature in the area. A recent survey conducted by the service found that the species is in favourable conservation status with a population of 150 million.

All images provided by Fionnan Burke and the Herpetological Society of Ireland from the scene.

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