When night comes, toads set out from their daytime hiding spots to go on the hunt. Not for big game, of course! But, did you know that a single toad can eat up to a thousand insects, slugs, spiders, and other pests per night? If you want to spoil them a bit in return for their excellent work, make a toad house, or several. It’s easy and a fun project for parents and children, or just you alone. Put on your DIY apron and get creative!
Make a flowerpot toad house
There are several ways to use a flowerpot as a toad house, and it’s simple to do. First, though, make entrance and exit holes. Do this by drilling a series of holes in a semicircular pattern above the lip of a flowerpot pot. Then, tap out the piece with a hammer. That forms the entrance, which should be at least 4 or 5 inches wide (10–13 cm) and 3 inches high (7 cm) because toads get pretty large. Make sure the cut edges are smooth (a metal file will work for that). Make an identical hole on the opposite side as an emergency escape exit.
Invert the pot and set it on the ground in a shady spot. That’s it! Or, make a toad cave: Lay the pot on its side and partially bury it so the toad will be resting on the soil that’s within. Enlarge the drainage hole on the bottom as an exit.
Or, dig a well in the soil 4 to 5 inches deep (10–13 cm) and slightly smaller than the circumference of the flowerpot’s rim. Fill the hole with soft soil topped with a layer of moist, rotting leaves and set the inverted pot over it (with holes punched in the rim, of course). It should surround the well, not sit in it. In dry weather, sprinkle some water through the hole in the top to moisten the bedding, and also change it from time to time to keep it fresh (when the toad isn’t home).
Coffee cans or other metal containers can be used for toad houses, but file off sharp edges and make sure to place them in dense shade.
Glamorize! Glue on decorative tiles, little ceramic toads, attractive rocks or anything else that pleases you. Or, paint it. Cover painted pieces with two layers of acrylic sealer (don’t spray the interior.)
Make a stone toad hole
In a shady spot near water, excavate a hole 10 inches square by 10 inches deep (25 cm). Fill it with soft soil topped with a layer of moist, rotting leaves, for summer bedding and winter hibernation.
Build walls and a roof over it using several large, flat stones. Leave an opening in the front and back for entry and exit. Jazz up the stones by painting them, or use decorative kinds.
Mold a toad house
If you’re into ceramics, create a novel design for a nontraditional hidey-hole.
How to attract toad residents
Hang a temporary, soft light a couple of feet (0.6 m) above the ground and near the entrance to the toad house to attract insects. The insects will draw toads if there are any in your yard.
Look, but don’t touch!
Too much handling will drive a toad away. Also, a toad handled roughly will produce a toxic secretion through its skin that’s an irritant, especially if it gets into a person’s eyes or mouth. It’s a toad’s only way of protecting itself. Take care to place toad houses where family pets won’t get to them, either—this isn’t so much for the protection of the toads, but for your pets—to spare them the extremely unpleasant result of tasting a toad! What to do if your pet bites a toad
*Top photo: Toad house. (4wphoto / Pixabay; PD)