Nature Blog: hibernating toads


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The log supply in my woodshed has been dwindling steadily and on a dark, wet morning I found myself having to rummage in the far recesses to find some wood to top up the log basket. As I fumbled in the corner where the last remaining rather sorry looking logs were stacked, my hand closed on something that felt very un-log like – it was cold, with a rather rubbery feel and it twitched a bit.  When I drew my hand out into the open I discovered I was holding a very handsome but rather bewildered looking Toad. It sat on my hand blinking myopically at me and then assumed that characteristic resigned attitude as if to say ‘well what happens now?’

I love toads – this one had found what it probably thought was toad paradise to spend the winter in – a dark, secluded, leaky, damp, home under some half rotten logs with plenty of succulent woodlice to snack on if the weather became mild enough for it to wake up from its hibernating state, only for me to quite literally tear the roof off its world. Feeling rather guilty I carefully replaced George (as I instantly christened him) back into the corner, restacked the logs around him and left him in peace. (Of course George might have been a Georgina).

Toads rejoice in the wonderful scientific name of Bufo bufo, which I think suits them much better. Dilapitated sheds and outbuildings are havens to a wide variety of wildlife in the winter and it’s well worth taking a look round yours to see what you might find. Mated, hibernating queen wasps often see out the winter months in cracks and crevasses in wooden walls –some Butterflies like the Peacocks and Tortoiseshells spend the winter in their adult form up in secluded corners with their wings closed hiding their bright colours and merging almost unnoticed into the background and I was once lucky enough to find a group of around twenty or so two-spot ladybirds clustered in a corner of my workshop –a nice decorative little addition until they departed in the spring. Philosophical thought for the day – there are wonders all around us – all we need to do is look – it costs nothing!