Toad in the Hole campaign to catch the non-native toad

By Hayden Moore

RIGHT across the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, there have been sightings of a non-native species of toad and the Herpetological Society of Ireland (HSI) are asking the public for help in catching them.

The Toad in the Hole campaign was launched recently after sightings of the common toad (aka Bufo Bufo) began popping up across South Dublin, with the HSI looking to investigate the effect the toad is having on the biodiversity in the area.

Comparison of common frog left and common toad right

Comparison of common frog (left) and common toad (right).

Science officer for the HSI and leader of the campaign, Collie Ennis, caught up with The Echo recently to talk about why they’re reaching out to the public for help.

“There is an 88-square-kilometre area that they’ve been spotted across the foot of the Dublin Mountains, going from Tallaght across the Sandyford,” said the Tallaght man.

“They appear to be established here some time – the record of sightings goes back 11 years.”

“It’s important that we investigate what sort of an impact they’re having on the native fauna and to see how fast they’re spreading. People have seen them, but they’re often mistaken for the common frog.

With the public legally not allowed to touch the native amphibians, according to Collie it is vital that you identify the toad correctly.

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He said: “Because the common toad is not native to Ireland, it is perfectly legal to catch them, but it’s important that you can identify them properly because it is illegal to touch the native ones.

“Nobody is going to get hurt catching a toad, they’re not poisonous or anything like that. They’re quite small, about the size of the palm of your hand. Just cup him in your hands, take a picture of him and we’ll come take him off you.

Because of their size, it may be difficult to tell the difference between the common toad and common frog but Collie explained the key behavioural differences.

“The [toads] are quite charming little animals actually. They don’t hop. When you’re trying to catch them, they’ll try walk away from you. If you try to catch him and he’s slippery and hops away, then that’s a frog, not a toad.

None of the toads captured by the Herpetological Society of Ireland will be euthanised, they will be kept purely for educational purposes.

Adult common toads are roughly between 5-9cm in length with rough, warty skin and copper coloured eyes.

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