First toad captured in garden in south Dublin following public appeal

The animals are not native to Ireland but may have been introduced as pets

Trevor the toad was captured in a garden in south Dublin. Photograph: Rob Gandola

Trevor the toad was captured in a garden in south Dublin. Photograph: Rob Gandola

 

The first toad has been captured following a public appeal to monitor an unexplained appearance of the animals in south county Dublin.

Many people will be surprised to learn that common toads are not native to Ireland despite their prevalence in popular culture - most notably in the classic children’s tale The Wind in the Willows.

Until recently the only place where toads could be found in Ireland was on the Iveagh peninsula in Co Kerry where there is an endangered population of Natterjack toads (bufo calamita).

A public campaign was recently spearheaded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Herpetological Society of Ireland (HSI) to report sightings of the common toad in south Dublin and north Wicklow after they had been seen there in recent years.

The first toad has now been captured by a member of the public on the back of that campaign from his garden in Stepaside and handed over to the HSI.

Trevor, as he has been called, is now in the home of the HSI senior science officer Rob Gandola and he will be used for information campaigns to raise awareness about toads.

“Trevor is our mascot for the programme,” he says. “There are huge question marks over everything. The whole thing won’t work without community engagement.”

How these common toads ended up in Ireland is unclear. Many people assume that Ireland and Britain have the same fauna, but there are many species which are native to Britain and not to Ireland.

Previous attempts by British colonists to introduce toads, newts, adders and grass snakes into Ireland failed.

Mr Gandola says the colony of toads in south Dublin may have been introduced as pets who escaped from their owner’s back gardens and have successfully bred.

He believes they are probably the result of an “innocent, inadvertent introduction” into Ireland.

No threat to the public

Unlike the false widow spider, another non-native species which have been in the news recently because it has bitten people, the common toad poses no threat to the public.

However, until a better picture is available of their prevalence and spread, it remains unclear as to whether or not the toads are having a detrimental impact on Ireland’s native species of frogs.

Frogs and toads, though often associated in the public mind are easily distinguishable.

Common frogs have a slimy appearance, long legs, move mainly by hopping and range in colour from red to green to almost black. They lay their spawn in clumps during breeding season.

Common toads have dry, warty skin, short legs, move mainly by walking but can hop. They are usually a dark to light brown colour and have dark red eyes. They lay their spawn in strings rather than clumps. and are not as easily startled as frogs. They will often not move if disturbed by a human.

If you come across a common toad, please contact the HSI at science@thehsi.org.