Amphibians as Neighbours

By Kris Kendell

Where your home is located will determine how likely you are to share your property with amphibians or how successful you may be attracting them to your property. Properties in rural areas that are surrounded by wetlands, woodlands, and fields will have the greatest chance to be visited by amphibians and will have the most success in attracting them, as will urban yards adjacent to these types of natural habitats.

Making your yard or property attractive to amphibians is easy to do! As a bonus, by following some basic ecological gardening principles and safety tips, you may even save time and resources.

The following are some of the best ways to attract amphibians to your property:

  • Maintain thick beds of shrubs, leave leaf litter on the ground, and allow certain parts of your lawn to become “wild” by mowing it infrequently or not at all. These actions can provide important cover for amphibians, increase prey, and even overwinter survival of some species.
  • Limit your use of pesticides or avoid them altogether where possible as chemicals can affect their growth, development, and food supply or can cause direct mortality.
  • Check window wells, outside basement stairwells, sprinkler boxes and other similar spaces regularly for trapped amphibians, especially in the spring and fall and during wet weather when amphibians are moving about.
  • Create a water feature in your backyard or maintain existing wetlands on your property, including landform depressions that temporarily hold water in the spring and early summer or after heavy rains. An ideal water feature is fishless and includes abundant aquatic and emergent plants, variable depths, shallow sloping shorelines, and a small adjacent boggy area. Brush piles placed nearby can offer an added benefit of providing habitat for amphibians to hide and find prey.

A few other considerations to help amphibians:

  • Leave wildlife in the wild. If you really want an amphibian (or reptile) for a pet, consider captive-bred species that are legal to keep in captivity and available from a reputable pet store or responsible breeder.
  • Ensure amphibian habitats are pet-free, especially from feral and free-roaming house cats.
  • Share your knowledge and excitement about amphibians (and reptiles) with others!