Monday, July 18, 2011

Nature Study: Toads

On Monday of this week we were doing our daily board when I looked up and saw a toad in our basement window. Of course as soon as I pointed it out to Treyton we all had to run upstairs to take a closer look. IMG_0005To our surprise we saw that there wasn’t just one, there were three!! One big one and two smaller ones. I really didn’t want to catch the toads, our history with catching toads and keeping them alive for even a few hours is not good, but Treyton begged… and I’m a sucker for nature so we caught all three of them and I started researching. IMG_0006

While I read all our nature books had on toads (in order to prepare a nice temporary home for them) Treyton drew the toads in his nature journal. IMG_0010


By simply preparing the home we had lots of fun and learned a lot about toads. For example, Toads cannot survive in dry places for very long at all. So the first thing we did was to take some sod and put it in the bottom of an aquarium, we put a shallow dish in the bottom with some water, and also sprayed the grass with a spray bottle. I have a glass lid on the aquarium, to prevent the toads from jumping out but it has also created a nice humid atmosphere for them.  

Toads absorb water through their skin, so we placed a shallow dish (a large lid) in the cage for the toads to rest in. This was oftentimes their favorite place to rest. IMG_0002


As soon as we put the toads in the aquarium, we went out to catch some food for them. We ended up catching 3 grasshoppers, 2 large ones and 1 small one. The next morning Tim actually realized that the large toad was “hunting” and we were to see him eat one of the large grasshoppers. It was AMAZING! We really wanted to see his tongue come out, but they are sooo fast!  IMG_0001

After that first night, the toads developed an appetite, and the kids, Tim and I spent lots of time in the yard hunting for bugs. Come to find out, Toads are natural gluttons and they can not be over fed. A healthy toad is a fat toad. If your toad begins to get skinny, it’s probably about to die.

We were able to watch the toads eat lots of bugs, particularly at night, which is when toads are most active. Come to find out, Toads eat pretty much any bug they can fit into their mouths. We only caught one bug they didn’t like – a yellow fuzzy caterpillar) in fact, two of the toads tried to eat him, and left him. Which is saying something, because we couldn’t keep bugs in there for more than an hour or more.

Something else interesting we learned was that Toads will only eat their food if it is moving – meaning no dead bugs. If the bug dies or become immobile it won’t eat it. At one point we saw the large toad bite the leg (and a little more) off of a large grasshopper, which killed it, and he wouldn’t finish eating him.


We kept the toads from Monday – Friday, we left for a camping trip on Friday morning and let the 2 smaller toads go before we left. IMG_0003We decided to bring the larger toad with us, so we transferred him to a plastic Rubbermaid container. That night he began to act a little “goofy” I had read somewhere that Toads (amphibians in general actually) are extremely sensitive to chemicals. So I was worried that maybe we were poisoning him somehow with the plastic container, so we ended up letting him go that evening (in the woods). IMG_0004

I’m not sure who had more fun, me or the kids. I personally, learned so much through having them for 5 nights. As an added bonus, Treyton learned a lot, too.   

I love homeschooling! I love nature study!! I mean seriously, you can’t make this stuff up – only God can!!