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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Toad Abodes

Kermit aside, frogs and toads get a bad rap - people think they're slimy (true, in the case of frogs) or that they give you warts (false).  In truth, we have a lot to be grateful to them for - they are some of our ecosystems' most effective agents at controlling the number of mosquitoes and other insects, as well as slugs, snails, and other gardening pests.  What better way to share our appreciation then by inviting them to come over and stay with us?

A fun, simple, kid-friendly way to make your backyard better amphibian habitat is the Toad Abode.  At its simplest, it's just a clay flower pot, placed on its side and either propped up with rocks so it doesn't move around or half-buried in ground.  Place it in a damp part of the yard, then place some damp leaves inside it to act as a moisture-retaining substrate.  If you want to go all-out you can add a saucer of water (with gently-sloping sides please!) outside to serve as a soaking pool, periodically filling it up with clean, chemical-free water.

Individuals or families with artistic bends can derive a lot of fun by painting or otherwise decorating the pot before placing it outside.  In my case I think I'd prefer to leave it unadorned so it would blend in more easily with the garden's settings, but that's just my taste.  Because these days everyone finds ways to make hobbies more expensive, some garden stores are now selling actual "Toad Abodes" which look like little houses or igloos or other structures.  They would work as well, though again, a simple pot works just fine.

A Toad Abode costs maybe five bucks or so and takes about ten minutes to install, and that's assuming you or your kids want to paint it first.  Once it's done, you've got a nifty little amphibian shelter for your yard.  There aren't many ways to make a positive difference in improving wildlife habitat for little cost and little effort, so it's great to take the opportunities when they arise.

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