On Saturday 23 January I participated in the local annual survey of hibernating bats. This involves getting slightly speleological and going down various holes in the ground, mostly abandoned underground limestone quarries and the cellars of chateaux, both known in French as caves.
In one chateau cellar we found two forlorn creatures huddling together in a patch of damp where water was seeping down the wall. They had obviously fallen in to the cellar either down a light well or a ventilation duct.
One was a Great Crested Newt Triturus cristatus (Fr. Triton crêté) and its companion an Agile Frog Rana dalmatina (Fr. la Grenouille agile). The newt particularly was dehydrated.
Great Crested Newt. We don't know which sex it was as it is impossible to tell at this time of year.
Once they are in somewhere like a cellar or the bottom of a well they don't have the strength to haul themselves up several metres of vertical stone wall. Well owners are advised to drop a length of landscaping textile down from the top or provide a permanent ramp made from a plank covered in small chicken wire. There just isn't enough food available down at the bottom for these creatures to survive.
Great Crested Newt, turned over to display its belly, with the Agile Frog just sitting there, probably an indication of its weakened state.
Fellow blogger Amelia wrote about her experience with this problem last year and you can read her posts here.
We picked the unfortunate beasts up and took them outside to recover in some wet grass near a pond.