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attract amphibians to the garden

Toads, Newts, Frogs and Lizards: Helping Amphibians to Settle in the Garden

Many amphibians are beneficial animals that help with garden pests.

Especially useful is their appetite for slugs.

frogs and toads feed on slugs and snails
Amphibians will help you to control the slug population.

How to Attract the Enemies of Slugs and Snails to Your Garden

Some amphibians eat slugs and snails and, when they have the opportunity, they even eat their eggs.

These amphibians include toads, newts, frogs, and lizards.

In many areas, some of these animals are threatened with extinction and are under special protection.

Therefore, it makes even more sense to offer them refuge in your backyard.

Introducing non-native species is not a good idea anyway. In some areas, even collecting and bringing native species into your garden is prohibited.

But if you can create optimal conditions for native amphibians to feel comfortable, they will find their way in by themselves.

Only if you live in a confined area, you could ask local officials if it is possible to capture native species and allow them to settle in your garden.

However, you must ensure that they will find everything they need there to be happy.

Video: How to Attract Frogs and Toads

Which Amphibians Eat Slugs and Snails?

Toads are especially good snail hunters.

These animals are not very beautiful, and some people dislike them a lot.

However, as snail hunters, they are of great help in a vegetable garden.

In addition, they catch mosquitoes, which makes them twice as useful as many other animals.

Toads are native to most of the globe. Depending on the region, you will find different toad species.

If you doubt that toads eat slugs, have a look at this short video.

Video: Toad Eats Slug

In addition, slowworms and snakes eat snails.

Slowworms are not snakes, as is often mistakenly assumed, but are in fact amphibians. Some snakes will also be happy to eat slugs.

Video: Snake Eats Slug

Several frogs, lizards, and salamanders also eat slugs from time to time.

Video: Frog Eats Slug

For newts, lizards and frogs especially, small slugs serve as a food source.

Video: Fire Salamander Eats Slug

All these amphibians help to control slug and snail populations in nature and in the garden.

How to Make the Garden Attractive to Newts, Toads, and Other Amphibians

Detect and Eliminate Dangers

You can make your garden very attractive to amphibians; if the hazards to the animals are not taken into consideration, they will not stay permanently, and they might even die.

For example, one problem for amphibians are spots into which they can fall and not find their way out of alone.

Natural enemies and the use of pesticides can also trouble them too much and prevent them from settling down.

window wells are hazard for amphibians
A typical hazard for amphibians: window wells.

Dangerous Spots

Typical traps for amphibians are:

  • basement stairs
  • basement window wells
  • drains
  • excavations
  • areas close to roads.

These hazards can be mitigated by covering them or by offering exit routes for the animals.

For example, you could cover window wells with fine mesh, or you could put down wooden boards that amphibians could use as a stairway out of the well.

basement stairs are a trap hazard for amphibians
Amphibians that go down here will die.

Bricks will reduce the height of the steps in basement staircases, meaning that toads and frogs might hop out again by themselves.

Access to roads can be blocked by fences or walls.

All these small measures will help amphibians to survive where otherwise they would die.

herbicides pesticides kill amphibians
If you use pesticides, many animals will avoid your garden.

Pesticides

Another threat to amphibians is the use of pesticides.

All pesticides – herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides – cause significant damage to these sensitive animals.

You should therefore refrain from using them if at all possible. They usually make things even worse in the long run.

The best thing to do is inform yourself well before you use them and consider environmentally friendly alternatives.

Anyone who intervenes with poison in an ecosystem sometimes triggers chain reactions that can cause unforeseen problems.

The garden is a sensitive system of plants and animals. Making even small changes could affect the entire system.

Poisons are therefore dangerous; the fact that slug and snail booms occur more and more can often be traced back to the use of poison.

Amphibians do not tolerate these poisonous substances and if you want them to settle in your yard, it is better to refrain from using them.

cat and toad natural enemies
Cats like to play, but toads do not.

Enemies

Amphibians are extremely sensitive animals; this is why it is so important to leave them alone where they live.

Also, pets such as dogs and cats can become a problem.

If possible, provide amphibians with opportunities to retreat, so they can hide if they sense danger.

Even toddlers pose a threat to these animals. Not only can their noise scare them, but children might also abuse them as a toy.

So, explain to children from an early age why they should leave these shy animals in peace.

amphibians need water pond
By building a little pond you can attract many species.

Build an Amphibian-friendly Garden Pond

Amphibians are animals that spend their lives partly in water and partly on land.

This means that they depend on water. That’s why building a garden pond is always a good choice if you want to attract them.

Many frogs, especially, need a pond to be able to survive.

A garden pond should, if possible, be around 200 square feet (20 square meters); the bigger, the better.

The pond should be placed in a sunny to partially shaded spot and be relatively low in nutrients, but not acidic.

Many species need native aquatic plants in their environment, and they do not usually like movement in the water.

It is advisable, therefore, not to install fountains or waterfalls in the pond.

In addition, amphibians like ponds that provide different stages.

This means that flat areas, which make the pond easily accessible from outside, should lead to deeper areas, which offer a retreat for animals and plants during the wintertime.

How deep the pond needs to be so that it does not freeze completely in winter depends on the region and altitude where you live.

Normally, a depth of 5 feet (1.5 meters) should be safe. Usually, 4 feet (1.2 meters) is enough.

If you do not want to keep fish in your pond, you do not need to take such measures.

attract frogs to garden pond
Water lilies need a pond depth of around 3 feet (90 centimeters).

If you wish to keep fish in the pond, you should make sure that they do not eat up all the amphibians.

Most fish will eat their spawn, and this will make them look for another place.

In other words, fish and amphibians do not get along very well.

For example, goldfish or carp are usually merciless when they encounter amphibians and their spawn.

So, it’s best to get as much information as you can before you buy fish.

Of course, how many animals can live there happily together depends very much on the size of the pond.

If you are planning a small pond, decide from the start if you want fish or amphibians to settle in it.

Of course, it is also possible to create two ponds; then all will find their habitat.

However, as fish do not help with slug booms, I recommend putting no fish in your pond.

Then frogs, newts, and toads can multiply undisturbed and help to decimate snail and slug populations.

salamander eat slugs
Amphibians need places to hide.

Create Safe Spots

Since amphibians spend only part of their lives in water, it is essential to offer them shelters inside the garden so they can hide from enemies.

Natural hiding places are mouse holes or even the abandoned caves of moles and voles.

But since their natural haunts are not available everywhere, it is helpful to offer them artificial refuges.

cairn pile of stones attract amphibians
Stones are able to store warmth. This is why amphibians love them.

Piles of Stones: Cairns

One place where many different animals feel comfortable is a pile of stones (cairn) in a sunny spot with many cavities. There they can hide from predators and hibernate in winter.

For example, lizards love a pile of rocks if it is placed in the sun.

If you want to build a cairn, dig a round hole of about 10 square feet (1m²) and around 1 foot deep (20–30cm).

Then fill it with sandy soil and place as many stones on top as you feel are necessary.

The pile should be stable and provide many cavities for animals to use.

If possible, it should be between 4 and 5 feet high (1–1.5m).

You can cover the side that is shaded with sand.

pile of branches
Piles of branches also provide shelter.

Piles of Leaves and Branches

Another place where many animals are particularly comfortable is a pile of leaves and branches.

You could place one in a secluded corner of your garden and leave it in peace until it turns into compost.

Make sure that it gets a little sun during the day.

As for size: the bigger, the better!

how to attract amphibians to your yard
A little paradise not only for lizards.

Hedges

Hedges made of native plants are an oasis for a multitude of animals.

There they find a shelter that stays undisturbed for most of the year.

It also offers protection from enemies.

You can choose local native plants, as most animals will feel comfortable in them.

dry stone wall in the garden for amphibians
Drywalls will attract lizards.

Dry Stone Walls

Dry stone walls are a favorite place for all kinds of animals.

They offer many cavities to hide in and store heat, which benefits many cold-blooded animals such as amphibians.

But building a dry stone wall is not easy. Inform yourself well before you begin.

Otherwise, you risk the wall collapsing and becoming a danger to your children, pets, and the animals that will live there.

flower meadow will increase biodiversity
Flower meadows will attract all sorts of living beings.

Flower Meadows

Creating a small flower meadow is easy, and all animals in your garden will benefit.

This is therefore a recommendable measure for everyone!

As a result, you can vastly increase the biodiversity in your garden.

If you frequently mow all your lawns, you harm not only the grass but also many animals that need flowering plants to survive.

Many herbs, and especially flowers, are the foundation of a lot of food chains.

Flowers benefit insects first and, as a result, many other animals that feed on insects – as amphibians do.

So, it is important to mow your lawn less frequently and to work on some dedicated areas only once or twice a year – preferably with a scythe.

Every green lawn is a suppressed flower meadow that would like to flourish.

frogs eat slugs and snails
Having amphibians in the garden is a joy.

Conclusion

Humans have caused a lot of harm to insects and amphibians.

The use of environmental poisons and an obsession with order have turned gardens into hostile places for most animals.

With a small flower meadow, a pile of stones and maybe a garden pond, everyone can reverse this development.

Your garden will be grateful to you if more animals can settle and natural balances can adjust over time.

Sheltering animals and supplying plenty of food will make biodiversity bloom again.

Toads, lizards, and newts will come back and help to keep slugs and snails in check.

A species-rich garden is a healthy garden.

The basis for this development is abundant flora and the resettlement of insects.

Then, not only will amphibians follow, but also hedgehogs and birds will again find enough food to settle down.

In the end, all snail and slug hunters will unite and help to limit slug infestations sustainably.

Video: How to Help Amphibians in Your Garden

Attract Even More Beneficial Animals

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Help hedgehogs settleAttract birds

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Create an insect-friendly gardenBuild an insect hotel (soon)

Slug Control for larger areas and garden beds

To protect larger areas use:

  • slug fences
  • sheep wool pellets.
Slug Fence Set: SmallSlug Fence Set: For 6m²Sheep Wool Pellets
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Last update: July 12, 2018


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2 thoughts to “Toads, Newts, Frogs and Lizards: Helping Amphibians to Settle in the Garden”

  1. Hello, very informative. I have found toads in our gardens, we just moved here. so we are excited. but I cannot find out anywhere if cedar mulch is harmful to toads or garden fertilizer. hoping you know.
    Thanks

    1. Hello,
      thank you for your comment!
      Cedar mulch should not be a problem. Garden fertilizer, on the other hand, could harm them.
      It depends on the fertilizer you use. You could ask your local vet if the ingredients in your fertilizer are dangerous.
      Good luck with the toads!
      Alex

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