To encourage wildlife to visit or live in your yard, you need to provide food, shelter, and water. There is a constructed toad house at the back of the rain garden in this southeast Michigan yard. The native insect population is the food source. The surrounding area is naturally damp because it is a low spot in the yard and collects rain runoff.
The toad house started as a clay pot, 10 inches in diameter. A hole was dug so the pot could be 1/3 buried when placed on its side. Dirt was added to the interior. Several fist-sized rocks were added at the front “doorway.” Local twigs were added to camouflage the exterior. This toad house has not been tested through a Michigan winter yet.
The toad house is now occupied by an American Toad (Bufo americanus). Toads are active at night, but Mr. Toad has been seen on occasion. He is mostly the same color as the damp mulch in the rain garden and is very camera shy.
There are two toads (and several frogs) native to Michigan. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, you may see:
- Eastern American Toad (Bufo americanus americanus)
- Fowler’s Toad (Bufo woodhousii fowleri)
The DNR states:
Amphibians are “cold blooded” (ectothermic) animals, which means that they do not produce internal body heat. Instead, their body temperature is dependent upon that of their surroundings. Most species pass the winter in a dormant (“sleep like”) state underwater, either burrowing into mud, or just sitting on the bottom in ponds and swamps. Toads burrow deep into woodland soil.
Toads are wonderful additions to a garden or a backyard. They eat insects. According to the BioKids website from the University of Michigan:
Adult American toads are generalists. They eat a wide variety of insects and other invertebrates, including snails, beetles, slugs, and earthworms. Unlike most toads, who wait for prey to come along and pounce on it, American toads can shoot out their sticky tongues to catch prey. They also may use their front legs in order to eat larger food. They grasp their food and push it into their mouths. One American toad can eat up to 1,000 insects every day.
If you want to encourage Mr. Toad to live in your yard, there is still time to add the toad house. The DNR offers their version of a toad house. It is completely invisible with rocks covering the location. But you will know it is there.
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