Posted on 19 May 2011
Common toads are thought to live up to 12 years in the wild, but a toad, affectionately known as Georgie, has been living in a garden in the Greatfield area of Hull for over 38 years and is thought to be at least 40 years old.
York scientists came across Georgie during the Hull Garden Survey, Slime & Spine 2009, an initiative run by Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) which aims to encourage people to get back in touch with nature.
University of York OPAL Community Scientist Sal Hobbs recently checked on Georgie’s progress following its winter hibernation and was pleased to learn the toad is still thriving.
Sal Hobbs said: “As a young adult Georgie was given as a gift to a Hull resident as a way of protecting her tomato plants against pests. That was 38 years ago, so remarkably Georgie must be at least 40 years old now.
“Toads are normally thought to live up to around 12 years old in the wild, although older animals have been found. Captive toads have been known to live a lot longer, to possibly 40 or 50 years old. Therefore, as a wild common toad of her age, Georgie might well be a world record-breaker.”
The discovery of Georgie is just one of many exciting finds we’ve made through OPAL projects which aim to create a new generation of nature-lovers by getting everyone to become involved with the natural world around them
Sal Hobbs, OPAL Community Scientist
Common toads have recently been added to the UK Biodiversity Action Plan as a priority species for conservation. The large bumpy amphibians are often garden visitors and eat slugs and other garden invertebrates, making them popular with gardeners.
Sal Hobbs added: “The discovery of Georgie is just one of many exciting finds we’ve made through OPAL projects which aim to create a new generation of nature-lovers by getting everyone to become involved with the natural world around them. From playing fields and window boxes to business parks or beaches, all spaces are different and all are important for wildlife.”
OPAL is a five-year programme, led by Imperial College London, with 15 partners including universities and other institutions across England. Funded by The Big Lottery Fund, it is bringing scientists and the public closer together to explore environmental issues that have both local and global relevance.
The University of York’s Stockholm Environment Institute, part of the Environment Department, runs OPAL projects with communities across Yorkshire and the Humber. For more information, please contact them at email@example.com or 01904 434577 or visit the OPAL website at www.OPALexplorenature.org.