The Royal Horticultural Society and The Wildlife Trusts are asking bonfire night celebrators to look out for toads and frogs before they light their fires.
“People tend to check for hedgehogs in the wood they have gathered for their fire,” says Andrew Halstead, Principal RHS Entomologist. “But it is equally likely that toads, frogs and newts will have found shelter in these piles and might be missed. Toads and frogs play an important role as predators in the garden and should be encouraged.”
In Autumn hedgehogs, frogs, newts and toads search for places to hibernate and piles of wood for bonfires can appear to be ideal hibernating spots. Both charities advise that fires should be built on the day that they are to be lit. Wood piles can be made before this but the wood should be moved to a clear, debris-free final spot only on the day.
“Bonfire organisers can divert amphibians away from the bonfire site, and give them safe shelter, by having smaller log piles, or heaps of leaves, away from the main pile,” says Morag Shuaib of The Wildlife Trusts. “And before lighting the re-built bonfire pile, it is a good idea to make a final check by torchlight, to make sure nothing has sneaked in.”
The Wildlife Trusts and the RHS are jointly running the Big Wildlife Garden competition which is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. How gardeners help protect wildlife in their gardens will be one of the considerations taken into account by the judges. Gardeners interested in entering can do so by visiting this site.
Common Toad © Les Binns