‘Beware toads’ on bonfire night

Gardeners planning an elaborate bonfire night display of fireworks to celebrate the occasion should keep a careful look out for frogs and toads before getting started.

The Wildlife Trusts and the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) have requested people take particular care to ensure the reptiles have not gathered for the fire.

Principal entomologist for the RHS Andrew Halstead explained it is common to check hedgehogs have not gathered in a warm pile of wood in the cold autumn weather, but asked people not to neglect consideration for smaller creatures.

He claimed frogs, newts and toads are just as likely to seek shelter, but might be overlooked.

All of these animals are said to be looking for places to hibernate at this time of year and bonfire pyres can appear to fulfil all of their requirements.

To help protect the wildlife, the charities strongly recommend holding off on piling wood for a fire until the day it is intended to be lit.

If this has not been done, it was suggested the wood be moved to a different location for burning to improve the chances of escape for the animals on the final day.

Mr Halstead explained this is also in the best interests of the gardener in terms of pest control in the long term.

"Toads and frogs play an important role as predators in the garden and should be encouraged," he remarked.

Morag Shuaib of the Wildlife Trusts suggested offering the amphibians a shelter with a smaller log pile or heap of leaves set down some distance from the location of the blaze.

"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," Ms Shuaib commented.

The mole is another unexpected creature gardeners may have encountered recently, as the Indian summer dried out soil and caused them to be found further afield in search of food, the Lincoln Echo reported. 

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