So I figured I've been learning so much from Fred, our resident garden toad, that I wanted to put together a little post with some advice, information, on tips for those of you that get lucky enough to find a toad in your yard.
First of all... Toads - Friend or Foe?
Toads are harmless. They might look funny or feel weird if you've ever touched one but there's absolutely nothing to be afraid of. In fact you may notice that when you come upon a toad, they just sit there. They don't even try to flee. That right there says it all. They are just minding their own business.
Toads are extremely beneficial to your yard and your garden! One toad can eat upwards of 1,000 each night. By the way, they are nocturnal. So if you have a problem with any kind of pesty bug attacking your garden, you should welcome a toad with open arms.
And no, toads will not give you warts. So stop being afraid of them for that reason!
Toads mind their own business. They don't want to try to get into your house. They don't want to bite you or hurt your pets.
Basic Information About Toads
Toads are nocturnal as I said above. Their predators include small mammals like skunks, possums, raccoons, and large birds, especially wading birds that may find them near water. Toads secret an icky taste from their skin to keep predators off of them. If the predator is smart, they'll flip them over and eat them that way because the glands aren't on their bellies.
Toads are not the same as frogs. Frogs pretty much live in water. Toads live on land. They go towards water to mate usually but other than that, you'll likely find them on your sidewalk, in your grass, or in your garden.
Toads do need water to drink, obviously. But the way they drink it is through their skin. So when you see a toad sitting in a puddle of water, that's what it's doing. Toads eat all kinds of insects. Big toads can even eat tiny critters like mice. But the majority of garden toads are just happy eating bugs.
You may see your toad shedding his skin. That's normal. Just like with any reptile except that toads don't leave their skin behind. Instead they eat it. It's packed with nutrients and vitamins. If you ever see a toad shedding his skin (you'll know, trust me!) leave him be. He will be sitting up kind of funny and likely pulling it over his body. Just let him go, he'll be okay.
Want to attract toads to your garden?
First things first, make a toad house. Toads need protection from the sun and to keep cool they often burrow into soil with their little faces poking out. They often take cover under leaves or rocks. So take a clay flower pot and smash it into two pieces with a hammer, or try to carefully just make a door-style opening. Then set the pieces on the ground so they make a little covering for any toads that hop on over. Also, toads need puddles, remember so if you have a little dish, fill it with water each day. Set these things on or around your garden to attract toads.
So you find a toad on your property....now what?
Move him near your garden. Seriously. And do exactly what I mentioned above so he has coverage and hiding spots.
No matter how you find a toad, be nice to him. Don't mess with him too much. I have pet Fred a few times but I try not to ever pick him up except for the 2 times I moved him to a different garden bed.
Let him be free.
If you live in an area where a harsh winter is inevitable, you are probably going to worry about your toad. I know, trust me. But you have to realize, frogs and toads have survived on this Earth forever and ever so they know how to handle cold weather. Nature is an amazing thing and each creature is equipped with instincts to help keep them safe. So when the temperatures start to cool down, frogs will dig into the bottom of a pond to hibernate. They slow their heartbeat down and go to sleep. Toads dig down into the Earth and do the same.
Please do not capture your toad and put him in an aquarium, making him into a pet. If you want one as a pet, go buy one at the pet store. Please do not make wildlife into pets. It's not respectful of the wild animal itself, not to mention that if you ever let it go again it could die. Also, once you take an animal that hibernates (like a toad) from nature, you mess with his body clock. His instincts can't properly help him decide when he'll need to hibernate in the future. Also, he could come dependent on you for food. So again, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE don't keep your toad as a pet.
If you have raised garden beds with fencing around them, make sure you leave the gate open once September comes so you can allow him to eventually venture out and find a spot to hibernate.
They say toads have been known to come back to the same spot each year if there's ample food and decent protection.
Also, if you find any pesty bugs while your toad is nearby, feel free to toss them towards him and watch him feast.
I hope this post has informed you about toads and also motivated you to open your yard and your garden to them!