U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Date of this Version
Records that demonstrate maximal natural longevity are virtually nonexistent for anurans, or amphibians in general. Records from captive specimens have demonstrated longevities as high as 36 yr for Bufo bufo (Duellman and Trueb 1986. Biology of Amphibians. McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York. 670 pp.). Here, we describe the longevity of a wild Bufo woodhousii that was initially monitored in 1978 (Engeman and Engeman 1996. Northwest. Nat. 77:23; Engeman and Engeman 2003. Northwest. Nat. 84:45), including 9 yrs of records on its emergence from hibernation (Engeman and Engeman 1996. op. cit.). The toad first appeared as an adult in 1978 in a basement window well of a home in suburban Denver, Colorado. It was observed alive every year to 2003 when in July it was observed dead in the window well of undetermined cause. Given that the toad was an adult when first observed, and that it was observed alive in 26 successive years, implies the toad was at least 27 years old at the time of its death. This toad was not a captive specimen, but the window well site in which it lived probably offered protection from most potential predators and also probably provided reliable arthropod food sources and moisture, thereby imparting optimal circumstances for maximal longevity. We could not find reference to a greater longevity for a wild amphibian.
Published in Herpetological Review 37(4), 2006.