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Create your own toad abode

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Jody Bourton Jody Bourton | 10:35 UK time, Thursday, 20 November 2008

With winter just around the corner, some of our best-known species are getting ready to hibernate - and your garden could provide the perfect place for many creatures looking for somewhere to shelter during the cold spell.

With wildlife, mess is definitely more! In fact it's probably a good idea not to tidy your garden too much at all at this time of year because the leaves and debris makes an ideal hiding place for a whole range of animals.

Indeed, it doesn't just provide shelter but also a walk-in larder of bugs and insects for species like frogs, toads and hedgehogs to munch on while they're sheltered.

frog_hibernaculum446.jpg

If you want to lend a helping hand, you could start by creating a place for frogs and toads to see out the winter.

The fancy name for such a feature is a hibernacula but I prefer to call it a 'toad abode'. So if you're in the mood for some DIY, here are a few tips.

1. Collect some cut logs of various sizes and bits of timber. Some rubble and rocks are also useful. If you have any bark and dead wood this is perfect.

2. Dig a trench 10cm or more and put down a litter layer of deciduous bark and leaves, something that will give amphibians some insulation but also some moisture and will retain an even temperature.

3. The position of the toad abode can be anywhere but is good to have some shade and be out of direct sunlight. Being near a pond is also an advantage.

4. Position the rocks and logs, leaving gaps between them so that the creatures can get in and dig themselves down into the litter.

5. Cover the logs with some topsoil, turf and mulch to give a good covering.

6. You can also make the toad abode a feature in your garden, fashioning it into a bench perhaps. Cover it with moss and it'll develop into a great looking feature.

7. Stand back and see the toads and frogs come marching in.

Good luck - and remember to let me know how you get on!

Check out the links below for more ideas about attracting wildlife to your garden:

Wild About Nature - Things to do


BBC Gardening

Gardening with children

Wild About Your Garden


Breathing Places - Do One Thing

Environment Agency 's virtual garden for wildlife


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