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Decorated Toad House

Gardening for wildlife is a great way to encourage biodiversity! There are thousands of ways to encourage birds, bees, toads, butterflies, salamanders and more to visit your garden.

Having toads in the garden is VERY beneficial. A toad will not eat your garden plants — instead, they will will eat insects, slugs and snails, all of which can be harmful to your garden. One toad can eat over a hundred insects in a night! And they swallow their dinners whole, no chewing allowed. So, how does one create a welcoming environment for toads? Consider a toad house!

A toad’s habitat is dark and moist. A toad shelter can be made out of anything, but today, I am going to show you how I made my toad house out of an old terracotta garden pot, some outdoor paint, and twigs and moss!

Toads, like frogs, are amphibians and need to stay moist. Amphibians are creatures that live part of their lives on land, and part of their lives in the water! Make sure to place your toad house by a body of water or even a backyard pond (or puddle).

Two kids holding a toad house

In March 2019, the IEM education team made toad houses with the preK and 2nd grade at the Milbridge Elementary School!

Materials

  • Terracotta pots, at least 5” in diameter
  • Materials to decorate pot, for instance: mosaics tiles, small rocks and seashells, moss.
  • Alternatively, you could decorate with outdoor paint, or a combination of both paint and mosaics.
  • Paper plate or cardboard to put paint on.
  • If using mosaic tiles, kid-safe grout or glue.
  • If using paint, paint brushes.

Activity Steps

1. Wash and dry the terra-cotta pots with the scrub brush and warm, soapy water. Rinse well and dry off.

2. Decorate the toad house! Only decorate one half of the pot – the other will be underground.

Toad House Materials

3. While your toad house is drying, decide where you will place it. Partly sunny/shady locations are ideal. The sun in the middle of the day could dry out the toad house. Other considerations are: how close are the toad houses to plants? To shallow water? To other toad houses? (Try to space houses at least 10 feet away from each other.)

4. Dig a shallow rectangular hole at each location using the hand shovel. Each hole should be two – three inches deep, and the length and width of you toad house. Hole

5. Once your toad house is dry, turn the pot sideways and place into the hole. Half of your pot should be below ground level, and the other half should be above ground level. Position the pot so the opening is facing north (away from the sun). Fill the bottom of the pot with dirt and pat it down firmly.

Help make the toad house less obvious to visitors by nestling it among moss, leaves, large rocks, or other natural objects. Note: I found moss lying on a trail during a recent hike — please don’t rip up moss to cover your toad house!

A toad house

If you are interested in how this activity might bolster your student’s academic performance, we believe it helps meet the Next Generation Science Standard LS.4.D: Biodiversity and Humans: There are many different kinds of living things in any area, and they exist in different places on land and in water.