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Garden toad in a bucket, advice please

toady2022toady2022 Posts: 8
edited April 2022 in Wildlife gardening
There's a bucket in my garden that fills up with rainwater.    Last weekend I used it to water some plants, but I hadn't looked properly and when I emptied it I saw I'd poured out a toad and toadspawn!  

Here's a photo I took at that instant:

I then scooped them back into the bucket and refilled the bucket from the garden hose.

A week later the toad is still alive in the bucket, despite the chlorinated water, though the spawn looks to be dead.   Today I dropped in a few live snails I found elsewhere in the garden, as well as a few scoops of soil which contain a lot of woodlice.  I also dropped in a bit of a plum, and put a few rocks to the side of the bucket so that it could have a path down.   (I'm not sure if the toad can jump out of the bucket or not).

Here's how it looks now.    My question really is, what can I do to help this toad now.  Should I just leave it be in the bucket, perhaps putting the bucket at an angle to facilitate it getting out (though then it won't catch so much rainfall).   I could buy some live crickets online and drop them into the bucket so it has some food.   Or I could just pour the bucket out onto a logpile or into the long grass, as I think it might not be able to get out. 

Thanks for reading!



  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    I imagine the toad will be fine and have lots of food from your garden. I would just put a bridge from the bottom of the bucket out onto some bricks, so that it can easily get in and  out if it wants to -  a slat of wood to climb up would be fine. . Maybe set up a washing up bucket close by with water in, so that it can stay if it wants and get in and out easier. I would surround all with cover, like logs or potted plants, that it's hidden away - from cats or birds and can stay cool. It's more likely to stay round if it has cover.

    Keep us posted.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 10,811
    edited April 2022
    I believe toads do not need to live in water and are quite happy in gardens but do like damp patches/soil. They will find their own food. I would be inclined to just gently tip the bucket on its side and leave it with perhaps a few inches of water in it and see what happens. I found a toad once living underneath a large terracotta pot which had pot feet and we once dug up by accident a hibernating toad several feet down when digging over our potato bed.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • Thank you for your quick and helpful response.  There are certainly cats in the area, as well as magpies, blackbirds, and parakeets - I'm in London too.   I don't have a garden pond, but this garden connects with neighbouring ones so perhaps there are some in the area.

    I hadn't thought about putting a little bridge inside the bucket itself.   I've got a piece of wood that will be perfect.  I can do that tomorrow.  So yes if the toad can get out of the bucket it will be able to find food from the environment, no need for me to drop in crickets.  Though I may try it just for novelty's sake.

    I feel guilty about the toadspawn but toads do live a long life so hopefully she'll have another opportunity next year!  
  • Thanks, Lizzie27, that's a good idea too.   I'll post an update!
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 26,984
    as long as the toad is out of the bucket all will be well. They are air breathers and mostly live out of water

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • LynLyn Posts: 21,343
    They don’t live in water only to spawn. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • BlueBirderBlueBirder Posts: 212
    Re: the breathing of toads - this is the way most frogs and toads 'breathe':

    They can absorb gas like oxygen through their skin through cutaneous respiration. It's important that their skin stays wet for this to happen though, which is why they a) produce mucus on their skin and b) can die if their skin dries out. This process works when they are underwater, buried in mud (e.g. hibernating) or out of the water, as long as their skin is damp. 

    They can breathe air into lungs like we do, but the process is slightly different (called buccal pumping). They change the shape of their mouths in order to create the pressure changes for the air to flow in and out - they don't have a diaphragm or ribcage. Their lungs are pretty undeveloped compared with e.g. mammal lungs though, and the gases diffuse much more slowly into the blood from the lungs than they do into the blood from the skin. 

    When they're are at rest they will normally only need cutaneous respiration to get enough oxygen, but if they're very active, they will supplement this by inhaling too.

    Tadpoles are different though - they have gills, so do need to be underwater, as gills rely on water flowing through them to absorb oxygen.

    Common toads don't usually spend much time in the water except for mating as they need to lay the eggs in the water.

    Re your toad - it will be happy in or out of the water, but if it has taken a liking to your bucket, you can add a bridge or something so it can get in and out if it wants. The only thing I might recommend is that you add some 'new' rainwater (from another bucket or something) every now and again to make sure the oxygen in the water isn't depleted too much. 

    Sorry for the essay! 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,227
    They can easily get out of buckets, so I wouldn't worry too much  :)
    As @Lyn says, they, and frogs, don't live in water. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • zugeniezugenie Posts: 704
    I had a toad living in a compost bag once, so it really is anywhere damp and dark  :D 
  • I think that might be a frog rather than a toad, especially as the spawn looks to be in a lump?
    Wearside, England.
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