Cover for amphibians

Toad hiding in lily(Enlarge) ©Janet Allen
If you look carefully, you can see an American toad in the center of this lily. (Its eye is on the left.) All the brown you see in the center of the lily is the toad.

This toad, a nocturnal creature except during mating season, is spending the day in this lily. He's very well-hidden.

I've tried a few types of what could be considered to be cover for amphibians (see below), but actually I think they're satisfied with the natural accommodations of our yard—just places to be that isn't turf grass.

We have LOTS of vegetation for them to use as cover as well as hunting grounds, and we have lots of rocks and logs to hide under, too.

Toads are nocturnal, so it's always a pleasure when we happen to spot them during the day, usually under a stone or hiding in a plant, as in the photo. The photo shows how well-hidden the toad is in its daytime home, explaining why we so seldom see them even though we know they're somewhere there in our yard.

A young toad seeking cover ©Janet AllenA young toad seeking cover under one of the logs bordering our garden

We've sometimes come across toads when we're digging in the flower beds or in the vegetable garden, especially in early spring before they've come out of hibernation.

I worry that someday we'll thrust the spade in the soil and come up with half a toad. I try to wait as long as possible in the spring before I start digging.

Toad overwintering site ©Janet Allen Toad overwintering site

In late fall, as John was working in our edible garden, he spotted a toad burrowed in the soil. We marked the spot so we wouldn't disturb it in the spring. Later in the spring, all we saw was this small soil disturbance. It had left and was probably gearing up for mating season.

Man-made cover

I think our natural cover (lots plants, stones, logs, and so on) works better than these man-made things. They're probably better than nothing, but our habitat garden is so much more interesting and useful both for wildlife and for us!

Hibernaculum  ©Janet Allen
A hibernaculum that I tried to create.

Here is the beginning of a "hibernaculum" I tried to create. After creating this base of sand, I then laid a large stone spanning the top. I don't know if any toads ever used it. I doubt it since there are so many areas in our yard where they can burrow down into soft soil for the winter.

I think things like this hibernaculum must have been created for yards where there's turf grass everywhere with no place for even a toad to overwinter.

A toad abode ©Janet AllenA toad abode

We happened to find this broken flower pot at the curb. To its former owner, it looked like junk, but to us, it was a toad abode.

We thought it was a real find since it was broken in exactly the right shape for a toad abode door. I have never seen a toad using it since, happily, we have a whole yard full of wonderful spaces for toads to be.

But I still like the looks of my toad abode, and it serves as a reminder of our quest for providing cover for even curmudgeonly-looking creatures like our toads.