Monday, March 2, 2009

A Sleeping Toad

I was working with my herbs today, transplanting tiny starters of thai and spicy globe basil. As I dug through one of my porch pots, I unearthed a little toad. He was pale and dirty and a little frightened, but when I gave him a new home in a pot that was already prepared with plant installed, he seemed quite happy. I dug him a hole with my finger, placed him inside, covered him with dirt then put a layer of leaves on top.

Toads hibernate by burying themselves beneath the mud or mulch. Their body temperatures drop to a shockingly low rate and their skin seems to lose its color, as well. This particular toad looked pasty gray, though I'm sure it's the same colorful fella who hangs out by my back door in summer. He didn't fight me in any way and I suspect this was because he was so weak from the lower body temperature.

I knew there were toads in my plant pots, but I wasn't expecting to find one in this particular pot because it was up on a shelf. They are remarkable climbers, though. I've found them inside the grip handle on my sliding doors during summer. Now that I keep my work shoes on the back porch, they generally hide out in the toes of my shoes.

The frogs hibernate this way, as well. The Southern Leopard Frogs that live on my front windowsills in warmer weather hibernate beneath the mulch in my side gardens. This makes it very difficult during planting season. I have to work slowly and carefully and often dig with my finger, using a round hand spade only when the dirt won't budge. I've decided this is the safest way to do it--if there was a frog in the dirt, the dirt wouldn't be so difficult to push aside.

I cleaned the frog pond again today. I suspect it will have just enough dead leaves on the bottom to make the frogs happy by the time they come out of hibernation. I will clean out the turtle pond again tomorrow. He, too, likes to hide in the dead leaves in cooler weather, but his water gets too stinky to wait out the winter!

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