Catching and Handling of Amphibians (Wildlife Casualty Management)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / UK Wildlife Casualty Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords N.B. This information should be read in association with Wildlife Casualty Handling and Transport which contains background information together with links to the Electronic Library and Organisations (UK Contacts). The related Species pages contain similar linkages.
Description This page has been prepared for the "UK Wildlife: First Aid and Care" Wildpro module, and is designed for the needs of the following species: Triturus cristatus - Northern crested newt, Triturus helveticus - Palmate newt, Triturus vulgaris - Smooth newt, Bufo bufo - Common European toad, Bufo calamita - Natterjack toad, Rana esculenta - Edible frog, Rana ridibunda - Marsh frog, Rana temporaria - European common frog

These species are from the families Bufonidae, Ranidae, Salamandridae


  • May be caught by hand:
    • Wet hands are preferable to dry hands, but hands should be soap and detergent-free.
    • If gloves are worn they should preferably be made of unpowdered vinyl.
    • e.g. small frogs may be cupped against the side of the container.
    • For larger species, the head may be caught between the first two fingers as the amphibian crosses the palm, with the thumb then gently restraining the neck.
  • May be caught in the water using a small net of fine nylon, taking care to cause as little skin damage as possible.
  • A net is the most suitable means of catching tadpoles.


  • Ensure hands are clean, damp and soap/detergent free before touching an amphibian.
  • If gloves are worn they should preferably be made of unpowdered vinyl.
  • Frogs and toads may be clasped around the body (more suitable for smaller species) or by the hind legs (for large individuals).
  • Newts may be held in the palm of one hand, with the thumb resting gently on the top of the head or neck and the index finger under the throat.

(B22.18.w6, B151, B156.18.w18, B189.6.w6, B200, V.w5)

Appropriate Use (?)
  • Catch only if necessary.
  • Handling of wild animals should be minimised.
  • Consider design of accommodation and timing of treatments to minimise requirements for capture and handling.
  • Consider whether physical or chemical restraint is more appropriate.
  • Skin of amphibians is moist and permeable to both gas and water, and often covered with a layer of mucus.
  • Handle with care and sensitivity.
  • Chemicals including toxins and drugs are easily absorbed through the skin.
  • If gloves are worn they should preferably be made of unpowdered vinyl.
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Risk of skin damage if caught using a net.
  • May be difficult to keep a secure hold on smooth slimy amphibian skin.
  • Toads can excrete a noxious substance through the skin which can cause a skin reaction in some handlers. (V.w6)
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Small nylon nets (sold for catching ornamental fish) are widely available from pet stores.
Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • Capture of amphibians is easier with experience.
  • For further advice on wild UK amphibians contact Froglife.
Cost/ Availability
  • Equipment required is inexpensive and readily available.
Legal and Ethical Considerations
Author Debra Bourne
Referee Becki Lawson and Suzanne Boardman

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