Written by Kelsey Low
Toads are not beautiful creatures. They aren’t big, majestic, elegant, dainty, or fuzzy. They’re little brown lumpy things that always seem to look disappointed or grumpy. They secrete poison from big glands in their heads, they’re covered in bumps and slime, and they make loud noises all night when it’s warm and wet. We compare people we don’t like to toads. People think they give you warts. Toads have a pretty bad reputation, but it’s completely unfair!
Yes, toads are bumpy and slimy, but when you get to know them, they’re actually strangely cute. They do NOT give you warts – that old wives’ tale is totally false. Toads do have poison glands, but the poison won’t harm you if you don’t try to eat a toad or lick your fingers after handling one. Despite being rather noisy during breeding season, they are surprisingly friendly neighbors. All they want is a damp little corner to lurk in and they’ll happily eat pests like slugs, earwigs, and even scorpions. Think of them as living garden gnomes: ugly-cute protectors watching over your plants.
Toads are really fascinating creatures to live with. The most common species here is the Coastal Plains Toad, a real urban survivor. These tough little guys can spend a long time away from water and can tolerate the massive changes we’ve made to the local landscape. All they need is a spot to burrow, a little vegetation, and a puddle to lay their eggs. Unlike their sensitive cousin the Houston Toad (an endangered species that relies on very specific sandy pine savanna habitat), the Coastal Plains Toad is cosmopolitan. It’s in our backyards, ditches, bayous, and city parks. It survives droughts, fires, traffic, and deforestation. Maybe it has the right to be a little grumpy.
If you’re willing to give toads a chance, check out Nature Revealed: Toad Abodes on Wednesday, July 6th from 2-4 pm. We’ll talk about why toads are good for your garden, how to attract them, and what other kinds of amphibians you might encounter when you create a wildlife-friendly space.
You can also learn more about helping toads here: https://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/National-Wildlife/Gardening/Archives/2006/Backyard-Houses-for-Toads.aspx