Connecting you with nature
Our lifestyles and habits often mean that many people don’t see frogs or toads very much. So, when I come across one or travel to a location where they’re known to be thriving, it’s a big deal. I’ve posted a few of the frog and toad shots that I unexpectedly got when I was out looking for bigger critters.
Frogs and toads aren’t as abundant in nature as they used to be – although it’s getting better in some places. And, just because we can’t see them, doesn’t mean they’re not there doing big work for our environment. These amphibians eat insects that cause human diseases, they provide food for many bird and other species, and they make great music.
An easy way to know if you’re looking at a frog vs. a toad is that toads have “warty”, bumpy skin and frogs generally have smooth skin. Frogs and toads are vitally important in the field of human medicine. Compounds from their skin are currently being tested for anti-cancer and anti-HIV properties. Frogs and toads like and need a good place to live.
There have been many terrific citizen science projects, biologists, environmental scientists, and others whose work is responsible for increasing and conserving frogs and toads and their habitat. A few excerpts from some of these projects and organizations are below, and links are also provided:
NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION: https://blog.nwf.org/2018/05/five-tips-to-help-frogs-and-toads-in-your-yard/
Five Tips to Help Frogs and Toads in Your Yard
“Reduce Your Lawn, Plant Natives
Lawns are the standard in American landscapes, but unfortunately, they provide no habitat for most wildlife. Reduce the size or your lawn–or get rid of it altogether–and add more native plants. Frogs and toads don’t eat plants, but they still benefit from a garden filled with natives. Native plants support exponentially more insects than non-natives do, and insects are amphibian food.
Don’t Use Pesticides
Don’t spray pesticides in your yard, whether they are insecticides, herbicides or fungicides. They can kill amphibians directly, cause deformities, or eliminate their habitat and food sources. Use organic gardening practices at home, don’t hire lawn care companies that dump pesticides everywhere, and try to educate your neighbors about the harm that these chemicals can do to wildlife.
Amphibians are on the menu for many other wildlife species, so make sure to offer plenty of cover and hiding places from potential predators (including kids and pets). Again, the best way to offer cover is to eliminate lawn areas in favor of densely planted beds of native wildflowers, groundcovers, ferns, and shrubs. You can also create small brush piles or put out a “toad abode” as hiding places.
Frogs and toad lay their eggs in clean bodies of standing water with lots of natural vegetation. A garden pond can be the perfect place for them to breed. Even if you don’t have space to add a pond for breeding amphibians, a simple birdbath placed right on ground level can be a great water feature for moisture-loving amphibians.
Fight to protect local natural areas, especially wetlands. Many species can be bolstered and supported by “backyard habitats” but if all the surrounding natural area is paved over and developed, most species will decline regardless of what we do in our yards.”
SOCIETY FOR THE STUDY OF AMPHIBIANS AND REPTILES, https://ssarherps.org/conservation/protect-habitat/
“Ultimately, the key to protecting amphibians and reptiles is to conserve natural habitat.
Habitat can be protected in many ways: a landowner’s personal stewardship of his or her property, government incentives or regulation, or acquisition and dedication as conservation lands. International organizations, government agencies, and private organizations (e.g., The Nature Conservancy) have protected millions of acres of habitat that sustain amphibians and reptiles.
Conservation efforts for species with complex life cycles must protect the full range of habitats required by all life stages. For example, …. pond breeding amphibians require undisturbed spawning sites, safe migratory routes, and upland habitats, often at considerable distances from ponds, for feeding and overwintering. Conservation efforts need to ensure that habitats are connected to avoid the consequences of isolation and habitat fragmentation and shredding.
Habitats need to be protected in a manner that recognizes the dynamic nature of reptile and amphibian populations both in space and time.”