I loved looking for and finding toads right in our backyard when I was a kid! I found my first toad next to a cherry tree as a child and toads have been my favourite animal ever since. Here are my tested and tried tips on finding toads in a backyard or garden.
Toads are nocturnal and generally active at night and spend the majority of the day burrowed in soil. The best time to find toads in your yard is at night near sources of light, and under humidity-retaining objects during the day.
Here is a quick summary of where you can find toads in the wild
|Near||Tree Stumps||Light Sources|
Base of Trees
Toads are very common in backyards and gardens in North America and parts of Europe. I observed them living their best lives in our yard my whole childhood. So, here are my fourteen tips on finding toads in your yard based on my tried and tested experience.
1. You Can Find Toads on Moist Land
Contrary to aquatic frogs, toads are terrestrial creatures that live predominantly in humid areas on land. Toads are very common in grassy backyards and gardens in North America since, contrary to frogs, they do not require a steady source of water to survive.
Although you may not have a pond in your backyard, you may still find toads because they do not live in water like aquatic frogs. However, toads are born in water and return to the pool where they were born as adults during mating season to reproduce.
Here are some open areas in your yard were you can look for toads:
2. Search For Toads Under Piles of Leaves
Toads generally burrow during the day and can be found under humid shelters like piles of leaves. The leaves provide toads shelter for them to hide from predators, and water to stay hydrated.
If there are piles of leaves, grass, or weeds in your garden or backyard, this may be the perfect shelter for a toad. Not only do piles of decaying vegetation provide a great place to hide and stay humid, they may also be home to bugs that toads can snack on during the day. Carefully lift up the leaves, grass, or weeds to see if there are toads.
3. Look For Toads Under Plastic Structures
Toads generally burrow and hide under structures during the day and particularly enjoy plastic structures in yards such as tarps, garbage bags, garbage bins, and large play-like slides.
My top place for finding toads in our yard as a kid was underneath any plastic play structures, especially under my slide when it was placed on grass. The plastic retains humidity, provides shelter and the grass allows toads to burrow.
If you have a plastic toy slide in your yard, or any other plastic structure placed on mud, soil or grass, lift up the base to see if there is a toad underneath. Keep in mind that if the structure is placed on tar, rocks or concrete, you probably will not find a toad underneath it.
Other structures under which you could find toads in your yard include:
- Garbage bags
- Garbage bins
4. Find Toads in Basement Window Wells
Toads can frequently be found in window wells or the area surrounding basement windows. If the well is too deep for the toad to escape but has ideal conditions for it to survive, it may remain there and burrow.
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The window well is my second top place where I found toads in our yard. I actually turned one of the window wells into the perfect toad home! The other one in our yard was in full sun most of the day and had a rock bottom. It was the worst place for a toad since they could not burrow and would die, so I added a ramp for them to be able to escape.
Check around your basement windows for toads and be sure to toad proof your window wells if necessary. If the well is facing North, is humid, has a mud bottom and can be turned into the perfect toad home, you may want to add a ramp and make it a great place for toads to live.
5. Check For Toads In And Under Planters
Toads enjoy common backyard planters because they generally are very humid. Toads like to burrow underneath planters that are placed on grass since they retain moisture and provide a safe location for toads to hide. Toads also enjoy burrowing in planters since the soil is moist.
You probably won’t find toads underneath planters that are placed on cement since toads cannot burrow into cement. It would also be harder for toads to wiggle their way underneath such a planter. Toads generally have an easier time hiding underneath potted plants located on grass, mud, or soil.
6. Open The Garbage to Find Toads
Toads are generally attracted to garbage bags and garbage cans because they retain moisture and contain bugs. This is especially true if the garbage cans are placed on a lawn because the gap between the can and the ground makes it easier for toads to sneak underneath them.
You may think it strange to find toads in the garbage can, but this is a great place to look for them because there are lots of bugs. The shelter humidity and presence of abundant food makes garbage a great place for toads to hang out.
If your household garbage is out in the open, easy to access, and contains rotting food, it will certainly attract wildlife including bugs and toads. However if your garbage cans are tightly sealed and located on cement there will be less chances of finding toads in the vicinity of them (CTNF).
7. You May Find Toads Near Your Compost Bin
Toads are generally attracted to large compost bins because they retain moisture, can provide shelter, and contain bugs. This is especially true if the compost bin is placed in shade, on soil and near the garden where moisture, humidity, bugs and many places to burrow are present for the toad.
For the same reasons they love garbage, toads love compost. Like we already discussed, toads love to borrow during the day and having access to a steady supply of moisture, bugs and places to hide can meet all of a toad’s needs for water, food and shelter.
8. Search For Toads in Rock Structures
Toads generally hide in rock structures for temporary shelter, however, they prefer to burrow in soil. Therefore, rock formations are not ideal for toads, but generally provide them with humidity, shelter, and bugs to eat.
Another place I loved to look for toads is in rock structures. At the back of your yard there was a flower bed contoured with rocks. There was no plastic lining and so the humidity, soil and bugs could freely pass from the garden to the rocks. You can see a tiny toad I found on the leaf in front of this rock hideout below.
I could generally find toads hiding in the rock formations since they contain moisture, food and shelter. Just look between any permanent piles of rocks like a garden contour to see if any toads are temporarily hiding there.
9. Look For Toads in Tall Grass
Tall grass is not the best place for toads during the day due to predators, but there’s a possibility of finding a toad on its way to another shelter or burrow. Tall grass can provide toads a great place to remain hidden from birds and stay moist. If your yard has grassy areas, you could try to look there for toads.
Just be very careful of snakes when looking into all untamed grass and weeds. Snakes love to slither through tall grass during the day because it allows them to stay cool and eat things along the way. Snakes eat toads so it is more rare to find toads out in the open in tall grass during the day.
10. Carefully Lift Branches & Rocks to Find Toads
Another natural humid shelter toads enjoy are branches and rocks. Search for toads underneath large branches and small logs. Carefully lift such structures in order to not drop them back onto the toad inadvertently hurting it.
Contrary to rock structures, rocks in this case are just large pebbles or stones on the ground that could cover up a toad. I often found toads under lage stones in the yard. Toads can generally be found under rocks that are the size of one or two fully-open adult hands.
11. Have a Look For Toads Near Trees & Bushes
The first place I’ve ever found a toad in our yard was at the base of a cherry tree. I was just swinging in the tree and when I looked down I found a tiny toad. It was a wonderful moment I will never forget.
Toads cannot climb since their legs are too short and their toes are made for digging, but you may find a toad at the base of a tree, especially if it is located in a forest or if it is the late evening or at night. Toads actively hunt at night and trees are generally homes to many of the bugs they like to eat including ants.
You may also find toads near the base of bushes like those that are used for a natural barrier around a yard. Bushes can be humid places where toads can burrow and eat bugs.
12. Check The Mud in The Garden For Toads
In the garden, you can search for toads under piles of pulled weeds, rocks, logs, near compost, and around any sources of water like a leaky garden hose or a bowl of water.
My grandparents lived close to our house when I was a child and so it would often go into the garden with my grandmother. Toads were an ally in their garden because they provided a natural way to eliminate pests.
13. Look For Toads At Night
Toads are nocturnal, and so the best time of day to search for them is in the late evening at night. Toads generally burrow during the day, but come out into the open at night to actively hunt and eat bugs such as mosquitoes, moths and flies.
The first time I ever saw a toad it was at night. After that I would go out every night to see if I could spot toads in the yard. Toads are very active at night and I think it’s the best time of day to go and search for them. Although it may be harder to get a nice photo, it’s a lot of fun observing them crawl around and eat all the ugly bugs (especially moths).
14. Look For Toads in The Wild
If you have tried everything on this list and still cannot find toads in your backyard, you may not be close enough to an area that has toads or a source of water where they are born. But don’t fret! You can still realize your dreams of finding a toad by looking for them in the wild (CTNF).
As a general rule, you can find toads on land in forests, woodlands, and grasslands. Good places to look for toads in humid parcels of land close to marshes, bodies of water or conservation areas. Toads will generally not be at the water’s edge unless it is mating season.
Learn more about how to find toads in the wild in this article on our blog.
More About Finding Toads
As a quick summary, toads can be found in humid places that act as shelter and contain bugs. Toads cannot jump or climb since their legs and toes are made for burrowing and digging. They like to hide underneath things that retain moisture during the day and are active at night.
We have even more awesome tips on our blog that can help you find and attract toads and frogs. Check them out in the articles below:
- Where Do Toads Live?
- 32 Easy Way to Find All Types of Frogs
- 4 Easy Ways to Find Toads in The Wild
- 10 Tips to Find Aquatic Frogs in The Wild
- 8 Tips to Find Tree Frogs
- How to Find Lost Toad in Your House
- Can Toads Give You Warts?
Common Questions About Finding Toads
Where can you find baby toads? You can generally find baby toads hopping near the body of water where they were born a 14 weeks after mating season. Typically, baby American Toads can be found hopping around on grass, leaves and mud near where they were born.
When can you find baby toads? You can generally find baby toads 14 weeks after mating season. For example in North Eastern USA, baby American Toads are generally eggs located in water in April or March, and are baby toads that can be found on land by June or July.
This article is written from many years of personal experience observing and finding toads, enjoy 🙂