Habitat and protection for frogs: Not just in Panama, but everywhere

Cairn terrier looks for toad

One of Cindy's cairn terriers takes a peek under the gas grill, where a toad lives during the summer.

I have a toad in my backyard. He lives under my gas grill. For the first half of the summer, my two cairn terriers tormented the poor creature every night. He would come out from under the grill and they would surround him, growling and nudging him, their tails wagging. From previous experience, they knew not to bite him, but harassing him proved too hard to resist. 

About half way through the summer, they came to a truce. He would sit on the stoop just outside of the sliding glass door all night, and they seemed to accept his sentry position.

I often wondered about this little guy. Why would he subject himself to such abuse? The home he made under our grill must be “to die for!” 

At my previous home, I made a place for frogs and toads in my backyard. But in my present home in Rockville, Md., with two dogs, I have avoided attracting them for fear they could be harmed. In the backyard of my old house, in the woods of Greenbelt, Md., I built a small pond. A little fountain kept the water circulating. Almost immediately, frogs came and populated the pond with tadpoles. It was very exciting each summer to watch them sprout legs and lose their tales, slowly transforming into mature frogs. 

Clearly, I had fulfilled their needs on four basic levels: food (lots of mosquitoes and other bugs), water, shelter (rocks of various sizes around the pond and lots of plants) and a place to spawn or reproduce. After reading up, I found that frogs are pretty flexible; they are willing to breed in anything, from a clay pot to a large natural-looking pond with a shallow end that makes it easy for frogs to move from water to land. But my very small pond, even with its steep sides, was good enough for my frogs.

It’s pretty exciting to know that I can help frogs and other amphibians in my own yard. While the hard work is being done in Panama to address some of the bigger issues threatening these important creatures, I can do my part to help them here.

Now that it is getting colder out, frogs will begin to hibernate. Even my little toad has pretty much disappeared over the past week or so. I expect to see him next year though, as I did last year. He is a regular summer fixture in my yard.

Cindy Hoffman, Defenders of Wildlife