Life and Style Merry Christmas! Here's a snake in a hat.

Snakes in hats has become the latest pet trend to take online forums by storm, take a look at some of the most stylish here

Frog's-eye view of the campaign

While the general election will be the first to move on to the information superhighway, both Labour and the Conservatives are already cruising in the fast lane with their instant rebuttal computer systems.

Remember origami? It's gone digital ...

cd-rom review; Andy Oldfield and young friends test a program that lets you print out and make 600 paper toys

Rescue plan is launched for the vanishing natterjack toad

A century ago the natterjack toad was still common across much of Britain. You could find it as close to London as Blackheath.

LETTER: Spell it right or the frog gets it

From Master Allie Johnstone

Bellamy puts a brave face on Frogwatch

NICHOLAS SCHOON

A weekly round-up of rural rumpuses

As a novel change from owls falling victim to humans (see above), humans fell victim to an owl last week. Passers-by on a council estate at Kimberworth in South Yorkshire were left battered and bleeding by a dive-bombing tawny owl. One man thought he had been mugged when he was hit from behind and left pouring with blood. After six days the owl was captured by Paul Kettleborough, a falconer. He said: "I've never known an owl act like this before ... I went up with my fishing net and was hit once on the head before it came for my face ... The owl has been hand-reared by someone who knows very little about birds of prey. They've probably got fed up with the noise and set it free."

Virus is blamed for killing off frogs

STEVE CONNOR

If 30,000 newts could vote, John Major would be out

Ken Livingstone detects Tory party machinations behind the threat to a colony of rare amphibians in the Prime Minister's constituency

LETTER: Duck tales

What's this? First the Weasel thinks he's a rodent, and now he appears to think that ducks are amphibians (Up & Down Canary Wharf, 25 March). Is the Weasel a sheaf short of a stook?

Freak frogs catch nature-lovers on the hop

Nature-watchers across Britain have been taken by surprise by the emergence of orange-coloured frogs in garden ponds indulging in early spring mating displays.

Ancient frog

North Korean archaeologists discovered the fossil of a frog which lived about 150 million years ago, proving, officials said, that the peninsula was a cradle of human civilisation, Reuter reports from Tokyo. The remains were found near the north- western city of Sinuiju, near the border with China.

Toads rule road

Safety work at the side of the A40 near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire is being delayed until toads which cross it have finished their mating season. In order to prevent the toads being crushed by cars volunteers regularly patrol the road and carry the animals across in buckets.

Letter: Of frogs and heroines

Sir: Emma Bagnall ('Dear Dorothea Brooke', 20 January) misses the point about Dorothea - and about George Eliot, too.

Letter: Matthew Arnold: man of the people

Sir: Bryan Appleyard grossly misrepresents Matthew Arnold by inventing a tradition of 'ever-more paranoid assertion of the need for an inner cultural priesthood that would protect the highest and the best from the lowest and the worst' and frog-marching Arnold into it. The author of Culture and Anarchy believed

Germans declare a new war on frog foreigners

FROGS and politics are not a familiar pairing. In the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, however, the American bullfrog has, together with a number of other exotic amphibians, been declared an unwelcome alien.
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn