By Ruth D’Alessandro, The Wildlife Gardener What happens when one of these:
meets one of these?
Well, not quite what you would expect, actually. The Wildlife Gardener was pushing her trusty 1960s Mountfield M3 lawnmower with integral roller up and down the front lawn the other day, doing the penultimate grass cut before the winter. Amphibians in the Wildlife Garden have their own zones: frogs and newts live in the back garden near the pond whereas toads prefer the front garden, especially the piles of rubbish and rubble left as a legacy by the cowboy ‘builders’. Plastic Protec floor covering and old carpet underlay form perfect canopies for toads to hide under, and their importance as Bufo bufo‘s habitat is the only reason I haven’t cleared them all away to the tip. I like toads very much. They live in the garden but they don’t breed in the Wildlife Pond. The sides of the pond are too steep. Frogs and newts happily jump in and out, but toads need a gentle slope to be able to walk into the water. Making a toad slope into the pond is on my ‘to do’ list for next year, especially as there’s quite a lot of resident toads that may appreciate it. Anyway, back to the mowing. My blades were set fairly low, and as I swung the mower round at the edge of the grass, I saw something emerging from underneath it, still moving. Oh no! I’d mowed a toad! Expecting blood and lost limbs, or at least some flaying of warty skin, I inspected my victim. The toad, an enormous specimen, had flattened itself right down into a dent in the moss. I gently picked it up. It puffed itself up in indignation, and when that didn’t deter my ministrations, it shot ice-cold urine all over my hand. This magnificent creature was completely unscathed, even having had blades and a roller pass right over it. I moved it to a patch of lawn where I had already mowed, and it swiftly trotted off into the flower border. What a relief: I’m not sure how I would have dealt with a semi-minced amphibian. And that was one toad glad to have been in a hole.