Jeepers! I posted this toad home story last December 30th! Was I ready for the new year and spring or what? So, given that this is the time of year we need this news, I’m reposting. Premature spring fever! Though I’d decided we had a perfect habitat for a toad, after studying all the angles, I searched in vain for one of the critters. I wanted to go catch one in the wild and then I tried to find one in town, but nada. I hope I have better luck in 2011, as they’re such a lovely addition to a garden. In any event, may you find a toad and welcome it into your garden with a little toad home you’ve made. Since I wrote this post, I have come up with another good site, the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Wild About Gardening, which has a great piece on the benefits of amphibians and reptiles. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for an extensive list of tips on how to attract them. I remember my Mom had a little tree frog that lived amongst the honeysuckle and woodpile….
A couple of years ago, I wanted to introduce a toad to our patch of dirt and make it feel at home. I learned what type of house it needed and where to put it. I was all set to go, but when it came to actually finding a toad to introduce, I felt hesitant. What if it didn’t like our hill? Would there be too many predators? Would it wander away and never come back? As it turns out, I never got a chance to answer any of those questions because I came up against a roadblock. I couldn’t find a toad! So, I thought…hmmm, what to do…. I got the idea from a lovely little book my mother gave me for Christmas in 1997, A Blessing of Toads: A Gardener’s Guide to Living with Nature. The author, Sharon Lovejoy, quotes a pamphlet from 1915 that states that a toad’s diet is made up of 62% harmful insects and if ants are added to the equation, the number rises to 81%. “Toads fill their stomachs to capacity up to four times in a single night, accounting for as many as fifty-five army worms, thirty-seven tent caterpillars, sixty-seven gypsy moth caterpillars, and seventy-seven thousand legged worms.” Repeating what a British newspaper from 1890 stated, Lovejoy says a toad has no bad habits, is inoffensive, and that gardeners should “treat them with utmost hospitality.” Therefore, this year, I intend to do a ‘feasibility study’ of our little patch to see if it would be a good toad habitat. If so, I’ll do my darndest to find one. With that in mind, I’ll make a ceramic home for my toad. Mine might be coil-built instead of thrown, but whatever it looks like, Kenneth Grahame would be proud of it and so would Mr. Toad. Here’s a video to help you on your way: