Toads feed on insects and other invertebrates. They're particularly fond of slugs, sowbugs, earwigs, cutworms, and gypsy moths. In fact, nearly 90 per cent of a toad's diet consists of garden pests. In a single growing season, a busy toad can consume more than 10,000 of these uninvited guests. Toads like to hide in cool, dark places during the day and come out to hunt at night. Not surprisingly, they avoid pesticide-ridden, manicured lawns. The following two types of accommodations will get high ratings from schoolyard toads:
- Use an old clay pot about 20 cm in diameter.
- Make an entrance by gently knocking a semicircular section 8 cm wide x 4 cm high out of the edge of the pot.
- Place the pot upside down in a shady spot near a source of water.
- Dig a roughly square hole about 25 cm x 25 cm in the ground.
- Cover the floor of the hole with sand.
- Use flat stones to make sides and ceiling. The resulting chamber should be no more than 20 cm x 20 cm.
- Use a 12-cm-long section of 7.5-cm-diameter pipe as an entrance leading diagonally into the hole.
- Shade the opening with a small plant.
Give Toads a Winter Residence
While frogs are happy to pass the winter at the bottom of a pond, toads are terrestrial hibernators: they'll dig deep into soft garden soil, beneath the frost line, to spend the long freezing months in dormancy. To make your schoolyard even more amphibian friendly, dig a hibernaculum for toads.
- Excavate a hole at least 1 m square x 1 m deep.
- Fill the entire hole with soft sand.
- You can cover the surface with compost to keep the hibernaculum warmer and give overwintering toads additional protection from freezing temperatures.