During the heat of the day, frogs and toads in your garden will seek out damp, cool earth to help conserve and replenish skin moisture. Unlike we humans, amphibians really don't care about the appearance of their shelters. They just want to be safe and comfortable. That's why repurposed materials from your home are excellent choices for constructing your frog house. Providing a frog house will invite hoppers to hang out in your garden, and eat those pesky bugs that bedevil your plants. This is a quick, easy and inexpensive project to share with your kids.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Empty plastic 1-gallon milk jug
- Hobby knife or sturdy scissors
- Permanent markers
- Clear acrylic spray
- Dead leaves, straw or compost
Pick a spot in your garden for your frog house construction site. Locations most attractive to frogs will provide plenty of shade, shelter from the wind, a nearby water source, and easily accessible hiding places. Frogs and toads are near the bottom of the food chain, so remember that they're menu headliners for many predators. So they'll need to hide quite often. Lots of low-growing plants will offer excellent hidey holes.
Wash an empty plastic 1-gallon milk jug with hot soapy water. Rinse it very thoroughly, drain it and allow it to air dry.
Cut the "shoulder" portion, about the top 3 inches, off of the jug with a hobby knife or sturdy scissors. Flip the jug over and stand it up. Cut a hole in the middle of what is now the top of the frog house. Make it 1/2 to 1 inch diameter. When the weather's dry, you'll be able to pour a little water through the hole into the house to moisten and humidify the environment.
Draw a door on the side of the jug with a pencil. It should be about 3 inches wide and 2 inches tall. Cut it out with the knife or scissors. Ask your child to decorate the outside of the frog house with permanent markers. Let the ink dry completely, and use some clear acrylic spray to seal the artwork.
Remove any sharp objects from the prospective froggy housing project site. Amphibians don't have protective hair or fur coats covering their skin, and you wouldn't want for your new tenant to hurt itself.
Dig a foundation for the frog house in the garden spot you've chosen. The hole should be about 6 to 8 inches deep with a width about 2 inches smaller than that of the bottom of the frog house.
Dampen some dead leaves, straw or compost and fill the hole with it to create a soft bed for the frog. Cover it with the frog house, and weigh that down with a rock. Gently hose the surrounding 6 to 8 feet with enough water to evenly moisten the soil surface.
Explain to your kids that they may have to be patient if you haven't already observed frog activity nearby. It could take months or even a year or two for frogs to discover and homestead your garden.
Tips and warnings
- Keep in mind that an area regularly frequented by frogs will inevitably catch the attention of their natural predators. Your garden may be visited by snakes, owls, hawks, wading birds, an occasional fox or coyote, and even neighbourhood cats and dogs on the prowl for an easy snack. Plenty of groundcover for hiding is an excellent solution for protecting amphibians. Even a nearby haven of piled compost, leaves, stone or logs is very helpful for this.
- If you don't already have frogs living in or near your garden, you may have considered retrieving some of them from a lake, pond, or marshy area near your home. Be sure to consult your regional wildlife agency before doing so, because there are laws in some states regarding handling and transport of native wildlife. Also, introducing an animal from an area more than 15 to 20 miles distant is highly likely to upset the natural ecosystem where it's released.
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