"People tend to check for hedgehogs in the wood they have gathered for their fire," says Andrew Halstead, Principal RHS Entomologist. "But it is equally likely that toads, frogs and newts will have found shelter in these piles and might be missed. Toads and frogs play an important role as predators in the garden and should be encouraged"
“Garden frogs, toads and newts can be very active at this time of year as they look to stock up on invertebrate prey for winter,” says Dr. John Wilkinson of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. “Although people may think of amphibians as creatures that occur only in the countryside, gardens are important refuges for many of them”.
Like hedgehogs, amphibians (frogs, toads and newts) seek out sheltered parts of gardens in the autumn weather to prepare for the cold winter. Unlit bonfires can be perfect because they offer protection from predators, and because they attract amphibian prey including woodlice, worms, spiders and beetles.
"Bonfire organisers can divert amphibians away from the bonfire site, and give them safe shelter, by having smaller log piles, or heaps of leaves, away from the main pile," says Morag Shuaib of The Wildlife Trusts. "And 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."
So to keep our amphibians safe on November 5th by following these tips:
- Provide alternative safe hiding places by creating small log piles of heap of leave away from the main stack.
- Don’t build you bonfire until the day it will be lit.
- Make sure to check any pre-built bonfires thoroughly before lighting.