A garden visitor bursting with character

Buffy the toad

Buffy the toad

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Meet Buffy, our old friend and garden resident, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

Her name comes from Bufo Bufo, the scientific name for the Common Toad.

Last thing every night I let the dogs out and have a torchlight garden safari to see what wildlife is about.

On warm nights in summer there are usually moths or caterpillars, but now in autumn, wet or humid evenings are sure to have tempted out the slugs and their predators, the frogs and toads.

Several large adult frogs are resident in our and neighbouring gardens, but only two or three toads of which Buffy is the biggest and my favourite.

Frogs are beautiful sleek and shiny creatures, but toads have character in abundance. Even young ones look old with all their wrinkles and warts.

As a naturalist I shouldn't repeat the old myth that toads have warts.

They don't but they do have toxic skin which is why few predators will trouble them. Another anti-predator trick of toads is to inflate themselves with air to double their size and intimidate their attackers.

Buffy used to do this to scare off the youngest of my two dogs but both are well used to one another now.

Frogs, of course, hop but toads plod. Their slow ungainly crawl is more reminiscent of a tortoise than an amphibian. Their comical gait only adds to the impression of a fat old pensioner out for a slow evening stroll.

As each toad tends to spend the day in its favourite damp spot, such as a cellar or disused greenhouse. I know a handful of other such individuals around the properties of long standing clients.

Call me nuts but toads have that effect on folk, such is their calm and wise old appearance.

Dig yourself a garden pond. If you do not stock it with fish, frogs will arrive, maybe even newts and toads.