There’s just something about a toad that “conjures” up visions of a witch in a huge black hat with a big hairy wart on her nose stirring a bubbling pot full of potion and mumbling spells as she stirs. Toads just look creepy, and then of course there is that propensity they possess to pee on anyone picking them up. Despite having a face only a mother could love, toads are extremely important to our planet. It is reported that a toad can eat ten thousand insects in one summer and are part of natures pest patrol (the person who did the counting for that study really needs a life!)
Toads begin their lives as tiny swimming tadpoles and eventually crawl onto land and begin breathing air, yet another of God’s creative mysteries. Toads, like other amphibians actually absorb air through their skin as well as getting it from their lungs with occasional breaths. They also absorb water though their skin rather than drinking it through their mouths.
Because of toxins in their environment, toad populations are said to be declining nearly to the point of crisis, although I certainly see no evidence of that at my house. Raccoons, skunks and snakes are natural predators of toads. Besides protection from them, and pets which are usually mere annoyances, toads also need cool dark places to get away from the bright sun and weather.
Joyce has several large flower gardens and scattered throughout each garden she has created what she calls “toad abodes.” She takes broken clay or ornamental flower pots and turns them into cool, dark, secret hideaways for the resident toads. She finds an already shady spot beneath a big perennial plant, then simply lays the broken pot on its side to form a little round-top enclosure into which the toads can easily crawl and hide themselves away from predators, pets and the heat of the day. One such hideaway is even made from the bleached white pelvic bone of a cow drug home from the woods by our grandson. Laid beneath a big plant with long slender leaves that hang down over it, the arched shape makes a perfect secret hideout for a toad or two. Any object that has room for a toad to crawl inside will work, and besides protecting the toads, they look very decorative and rustic in the flower bed too.
So the next time you buy your pet a new toy or treat, think about your insect removal friends too. Find a broken clay pot or bowl and place it in a new spot in the garden for yet another toad abode. And next year, when you ask yourself what in the world that broken pot is doing in your flower bed and pick it up to remove it, don’t be surprised to see a pair of dark eyes looking back at you from beneath it…Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors!
Steve can be contacted by email at his NEW email address [email protected]