BEXAR COUNTY, Texas – If you’ve noticed a bunch of toads hopping around your yard recently you’re not alone. These Texas amphibians are enjoying a boost in their population thanks to a wet year.
The rainy conditions in Texas have allowed amphibians to reproduce and venture out more into gardens.
“In urban areas, one of our most common terrestrial toads is the Gulf Coast Toad,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Urban Wildlife Biologist Judit Green. “They rely on pools of water after periods of rain to go through their life cycle if a reliable water source isn’t nearby.”
With more toads hopping around you might have a few questions about whether they’re good for your garden and what to do if your pet tries to eat one.
Firstly, toads are not a danger to pets. The toads found in Texas are not poisonous and if a pet manages to eat one it will likely be fine, according to Green.
She said toads are probably not too tasty so the likelihood of a pet eating more than one is low but if they do start to exhibit any weird behavior, take your pet to the veterinarian’s office as soon as possible.
Toads are actually great for gardens, so if you see them in your flower pots you can leave them be.
“Toads and other amphibians feed on the insects throughout our gardens and rely on insects to survive,” said Green. “Amphibians are an indicator species. They give us a good idea of how our environment is doing, which includes our backyards.”
Green said if you see a lot of frogs and toads on your property then it’s a good bet you’re doing good things in your yard.
“If you start seeing two-headed toads or don’t see them at all, this could mean you don’t have a clean environment that provides their basic needs such as food sources, like insects, and shelter, like leaf litter on the ground or a variety of native plants throughout the yard,” said Green.
Amphibians are in Texas year-round and don’t have a specific season where they are more or less abundant.
“As long as we continue to get rainy periods, you most likely will be seeing more activity than usual and may encounter a frog or toad more often,” said Green.
She said it’s important not to randomly spray chemical pesticides and fertilizers throughout your property because toads have permeable skin that allows them to soak up moisture through their skin, but also means any harmful chemicals are also taken up which can kill them.
“Remember, our actions determine the health of our land and all that grows in it and lives on it including humans,” Green said.
If you’re hoping to keep these hoppy friends around your garden you can help build a toad habitat for your yard.
Green suggests adding native pollinator plants and other small native Texas shrubs if they are lacking in your yard. For more information on native plants for your garden, you can visit the Wildflower Center’s Native Plant database and search the various plant lists.
Adding native plants to your yard also helps San Antonio sustain its designation as a bird city and contributes to the Mayor’s Monarch Pledge which is dedicated to restoring the habitat for the monarch butterfly in our area.
She said adding a “toad house” in your garden is as simple as digging down a little so the frogs have access to the soil.
“You can also build a little cavern with flat rocks too, just be sure the rocks are well situated so they won’t fall into each other and on top of an unsuspecting toad,” Green said.
And because toads feast on insects - you’ll have less of those in your yard if you keep conditions prime for the amphibians.