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Toads and their care

 
John Elliott
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We got over 4" of rain today, so I sit here being serenaded by hordes of toads out in the garden. I try to keep my garden as toad friendly as possible. With no herbicides/pesticides/fungicides, they have a place to hop to should they get indigestion dining on the neighbors' bugs. I also set out broken clay pots and pieces of hollowed out logs so that they will have places to retire to during the heat of the day.

There are benefits to having an active toad population. There aren't a whole lot of slugs in the garden, and the ones I do find are mostly small juveniles.

I regard toads as an indicator species -- if there are plenty of them to be found, your garden is a healthy ecosystem. If you don't have many, there are things you can be doing better.
 
Rob Lisa
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Location: North Carolina, Zone 7B
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I too am sitting here listening to a loud chorus of amphibious noise. It is dark so I can't tell if they are toads or frogs. about 1.5", squat, grayish, and they jumped into my pond and swam to the bottom when I approached. I have also seen them 7' up in the trees.

Are frogs a good sign as well? how about 1.5 million tadpoles, which it seems I have in the hereterfore unstocked pond.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Morning All,

John...what a wonderful thing you do....(and a nice conversation to think about this morning with the toads around here breeding outside in vernal pools in the forest.)

I have had a deep love for these fine folk since I was a child...which grew into a professional relationship (zoos and exotic animal husbandry) as an adult. Bufo are glorious, and yes, an indicator species! I just can't imagine a gardener that practices permaculture that does not dedicate a reasonable amount of time and effort seeing to their "enhanced" needs and wants. Being raised by the strange Ladies that had been my Aunt, Mother, and Grandmother...I thought it normal to talk to toads, feed them by had, and call to them in the garden. I never had the capacity as a child to wait for them to hop over to me for a treat like my Grandmother did, yet like moths to the porch light (and the toads that soon followed) they would come to see if she was just "diggin in the dirt" or if, perchance, she may have a morsel to give them.

We (Mother mainly) would find old claw foot tubs and have me barry them around the garden area. In these went small native fish and soon the toads would follow in the spring. I can't remember a place growing up, even in the desert, that she did not drag one of these home to stick in the ground. She spent hours drawing, painting, sketching and just watching these "hopping people," which she treated more like ecclesiastics of some form, than animal...

Hello Rob Lisa,

It sounds like and would seem that you have what the old ones called "tree toads," which is actually a frog and a wonderful indicator species. Our Hyla lived mainly in the greenhouse though my mom (and latter me) always had several kinds in large vivarium in the house. When I got older (and a wee bit smarter at making enclosures) I even could get them to sing and breed. They too are a very strong indicator species that is now being plagued by a fungus that is eluding scientists in what to do. Like our bats...entire populations are just vanishing; some in a matter of days or weeks. The more folks are aware of all these amphibians around them the better off we would (will?) be...

Warm Regards to all you lovers of the moist skinned...

j
 
Steve Hoskins
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Location: NW lower Michigan
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Wow. Hand feeding your toads. That is awesome. Any more suggestions from your grandmother on toad whispering would be appreciated.

A word of caution from experience:

Keep your electric fences at least 8" off the ground.
I found a BIG toad dead on the fence early this spring and felt pretty bad. He got hit right under the chin and that was that. Had to put in some new amphibian spaces to correct the feeling. Lesson learned, and now, lesson shared.

 
Fred Morgan
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Here in the tropics we get huge toads - some of them nearly 12 inches across. Our dog used to get pretty upset with one who would get into his water dish during the night. lol
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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From the description, I would say that is a "cane toad" or its relative. They have become and invasive species in many areas like Florida, Caribbean, parts of Asia, and Australia, but in their natural habitat they don't seem such a problem, as they have predators that can handle there toxin. They will also eat dog food from a bowl, which of course makes them even bigger (and upsets the doggy too.) Their Bufotoxin is very strong and can kill livestock and domestic pets that are foolish enough to bite or lick one.
 
John Elliott
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It's been dry lately, so the breeding pond has turned into a mud slick. Time for all the little tadpoles to give up their tails and grow legs. Here's a little one trying to hide between two Phyllanthus seedlings.

 
wayne fajkus
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We've had an unheard of 6" rain over the last month. Baby toads are everywhere.

I haven't seen the bats yet which are usually entertaining at night.

Hummingbirds are here

It's a good time in the outdoors
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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Perhaps some of you toad-attracters can help me out. I am...toadless.

Yes - I do live in a hot, dry climate. However, there are native species here, a few of which lie dormant underground until the monsoons come (if they do come). I recall digging with a trowel in my mother's herb garden at her house in Cave Creek - a more rural community outside of Phoenix. I hit something "squishy" and carefully dug away the dirt to reveal a dormant toad about the size of my hand. At the Scottsdale College Community Garden (also more rural as it is right on the edge of the Pima Indian reservation), they have tons of smaller toads. These toads especially like the woodchip piles on the property.

So I live in downtown Phoenix - very urban - on 1/6th of an acre. I do have a lot of woodchips on the property. But, while I have a thriving lizard population, I lack any sort of toad population. Any advice? There are lots of crevasses for them to hide in but there is no open water source other than the bird bath which would be too high for them to access. Oh - and the chicken's water tub.
 
John Elliott
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Jennifer Wadsworth wrote: downtown Phoenix -


Do they still flood irrigate there? About 30 years ago, I spent a summer near 7th and Camelback, and I recall that every week or two there was a day when people's yards would get flooded from the canals. doesn't that bring out the toads?

Desert toads spend a LOT of their life underground and dormant. As you found out when you dug one up. To get enticed out, they need to get a good ground-soaking downpour. To get enticed out and want to mate, that ground-soaking downpour has to stay around for a while in the form of a pond.

I would suggest buying a small toddler wading pool, say 4' across and 18" deep and burying it in a part of your garden. Fill it half full of good size river rock and the rest of the way with water. Then wait for the toads to find it. Since you say the summer monsoon just started, toads are probably out looking for places for their conjugal visits.

If it starts to look like mosquito habitat (wriggly larvae in the water), buy a half dozen rosy red minnows at some place like PetsMart and toss them in. They won't bother the tadpoles, but they will eat any mosquito larvae they can find.

I'd gladly mail you a sackful of toadlets, but I wonder how they would survive the trip. Maybe in a big handful of mud like the one your dug your toad out of.......
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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Unfortunately I am not in an irrigated area (although my neighbor, Encanto Park, is flood irrigated).

I like your idea of a wading pool. However, it occurs to me that the hens are now free ranging and would probably eagerly eat any toad spawn that might appear.

I will have to ponder this more. Perhaps it is an idea for next year as some rearranging of the topography is due to take place at my house this fall. I will keep toads in mind though. I do lust for toads.
 
William Bronson
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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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How about a self harvesting frog/toad chicken feeder?
55gal drym with fencing to keep chickens out and still let frogs/toads escape into the waiting beaks.
Those that survived would be quite fit indeed!
 
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