All Toads Welcome: Benefits of Having Toads in Your Yard & How to Attract Them

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

In many stories, toads do one of two things: give you warts, or turn in to princes. In reality, they do neither of those things - though they are quite charming. Toads have been given a bad rap due to their bumpy or "warty" brown skin, and simply because many people don't know much about them which leads to unwarranted fear. But toads actually have a lot to teach us about the environment, and can even help keep unwanted pests out of our gardens. Read on to learn how to help attract these little princes to your yard.

American Toadlet - yes, they are actually called toadlets! 

Benefits of having toads in your yard

  • Natural pest control
    Got bugs? Call 1-800-TOADS! These carnivorous amphibians have voracious appetites, and gobble up any and all insects & invertebrates that come across their path. Toads eat as many as 100 insects per night, which adds up to a whopping 10 000 in just one summer. They are creatures of habit and tend to stick around the same area, returning to the same hunting spot evening after evening to feed. No need for alternative pest control solutions when you have a toad-friendly garden, these guys will make sure the pests are kept at bay. 

  • Indicator species
    Toads and other amphibians are known as indicator species. An indicator species is one whose presence, absence, or abundance can help us to gauge the health of an ecosystem. Amphibians have permeable skin, meaning things such as water, oxygen, and toxins are easily absorbed through it. If an environment is contaminated with a pollutant, amphibians' health is often the first affected. Seeing toads in your yard is a good indication that the area you are in and the habitat you are providing is in good health. 

  • They're adorable - okay, this one's just for fun. But really, who can resist their chubby bodies, bulldog-esque stance, and cute little hops? Not me. 

American Toad

Welcoming toads to your yard
Toads are the perfect guests to have in your yard. They're quiet (when not courting the ladies) low-maintenance, and they help clean up. Creating "toad friendly" habitat is simple to achieve, easy to maintain, and will also help welcome other garden-friendly wildlife, such as birds, to your yard.

  • Shrink your lawn
    Large expanses of mowed grass lawns have been the goal of home-owners for decades, but the truth is that they hold no value to us or our wildlife. Shrinking your mowed lawn space by either strategically landscaping using native plants, or by just letting more area of your yard grow a little wild, will help increase biodiversity and help our native flora and fauna thrive. This may seem like a daunting task, but growing native plants requires much less watering and maintenance than exotic species. For info on getting your wildlife-friendly garden started, click here

  • Provide appropriate cover
    Toads are the perfect sized snack for many animals including snakes, birds, weasels, and free-roaming domestic cats. In order to avoid becoming someone's next meal, toads need plenty of cover to hide from predators. In addition to using cover to avoid predation, toads like to stay in somewhat shaded areas to avoid drying out in the hot sun. Shelter can be created from plants growing in your gardens, leaf & brush piles, low-growing native shrubs, and un-mowed areas in your lawn. Toad houses can also be added to help provide moist cover, and can easily be made by half-burying a terracotta pot in a shady and preferably damp area in your yard. Toads can be quite territorial, so adding multiple houses spread out in your yard may be beneficial. 

  • Add a water source
    Toads differ from their froggy relatives in that they don't spend much time in water, only taking the plunge to breed and lay eggs in the spring. But they do still enjoy a soak in shallow water and require fresh water to drink daily. A small pond with plenty of vegetation and easy access to the water is ideal, but smaller pools of water such as shallow ground-level bird baths in sheltered areas will be used as well. 

  • Eliminate pesticides
    As mentioned above, toads have permeable skin which allows toxins to be absorbed into their bodies. This includes pesticides, insecticides, and even fertilizers. Many of these chemicals are extremely toxic to amphibians, causing them to become ill or die from exposure. In addition to the health risks associated with using pesticides, they also completely eliminate insects, which are toads' primary food source. Even things we use daily such as hand creams, sunscreen, bug spray, and other substances can harm toads, so it is advised to avoid handling as much as possible. If you need to move a toad for any reason, making sure your hands have not come into contact with any substances or using sterile gloves is best practice.

American Toad, male, singing his courtship song.

Though they may not be as brightly coloured as their froggy relatives, and don't turn into princes, toads are highly beneficial to our yards, gardens, and the environment and should be treated as royalty - with welcoming (gloved) arms!

Happy trails!
- Shayna 

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