Toads in Your Window Well: Why & What to Do

You might be in for a jumpy, lumpy surprise when you remove the dead leaves around your basement window, window well or egress window and discover a toad, or two! Now you might wonder how this happened and what to do about it.

Generally, toads fall into window wells by accident. But window wells that have soil, leaves, moisture, and bugs can be an ideal environment for toads. However, if the well is in full sun, is flooded, or has a rock bottom, the toad could die. Consider removing or caring for them.

I had a pet toad that I found in a window well as a child, and here I will share information on why toads are drawn to window wells and some tips on what to do with them if you would like for them to be gone forever, or to keep and care for them.

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Why Are Toads in Your Window Well?

The two main reasons you could find toads in your window well are that they fell in by mistake, or enjoy the environment.

Toads Can Fall Into Window Wells by Mistake

The main reason you found a toad in your window well is that they fell in by accident. This can happen if you live in an area that’s highly populated with toads. If the window well is too deep, the toad will likely be trapped and not be able to hop or climb back out. 

If the well is not very deep and they could crawl back out again, they may like the environment. This can be especially true if your window well is moist, has soil, dead leaves, and many bugs. Even if you do not live in a typically toad-friendly environment, your window well has likely accumulated a good deal of what toads like. 

Toads May Enjoy Your Window Well’s Environment

A toad may like to live in your window well especially if it is facing North or East and is moist, has lots of dead leaves, soil, and bugs to eat. Toads require both land and water to thrive, but they are not as dependent on a constant source of water as frogs are. 

Especially during the Fall, a window well full of dirt and leaves could prove an ideal hibernation ground for toads. Toads burrow underground to sleep through the Winter and an enclosed space like a window well would be very appealing to them. You may spot active toads in your window well in the Spring when they come out of hibernation. 

Should You Keep or Remove Toads From Your Window Well?

If your window well is covered in gravel, is facing West or South, is in full sun most of the day, does not have many bugs, is very dry or flooded, this is a terrible environment for a toad and you should remove it asap.

This Window Well is Not a Good Place For a Toad

If your window well is shallow, has a soil bottom and many dead leaves, is humid, in the shade, is full of bugs, and is facing North or East, and you like toads, you could care for it as an outdoor pet (CTNF).

No matter what your window well is like, you could either remove the toad, toad-proof your window well and yard, or care for the toad as a pet. Let’s explore each of these options.

How to Remove Toads From Your Window Well

You have a few options with regards to what you can do, but either way, if your window well is in full sun, has no bugs, soil, or humidity, you really should prioritize removing the toad over keeping it as a pet. And for those of you who just do not want a toad-filled window well, here are a couple of things you can try. 

Remove Toads Using a Net

Using a net to capture and remove toads is an advisable choice. That will prevent you from having to touch the toad and possibly harm it. 

  1. Make sure any pets including cats or dogs are inside before getting started
  2. Use a tightly knit net to scoop up the toad
  3. Release the toad at the opposite end of your yard 
  4. Chose a shaded, safe area to leave the toad, far away from predators

You can get a tightly knit net for a low cost at your local Dollar Store and use it to scoop up the toad in your window well. You do not want your pets to be outside because they are predators to toads and risk getting very sick if they eat them intentionally or unintentionally.

Remove Toads Using Gloves

If you choose to catch the toads by hand, do not forget to wear gloves or some other form of protection. 

  1. Make sure any pets including cats or dogs are inside before getting started
  2. Bend down into the window well and cup the toad with two hands
  3. Release the toad at the opposite end of your yard
  4. Chose a shaded, safe area to leave the toad, far away from predators

You should wear gloves because most toads are poisonous and secrete a white toxin from their parotoid glands behind their eyes on their backs if they feel threatened. Carry the toad under the arms if it is very large, but do not hold it tight or around the belly since this could hurt its internal organs. Be very careful when handling toads, they are fragile creatures. 

Do not worry if the toad pees on you, it is afraid and that is a way for it to fend off predators. And toad pee does not give warts. Anyway, you are wearing gloves, right? 😉 This guide on our blog contains more details information on how to safely catch and release frogs. Be sure to check it out for more tips and precautions.

Do Not Kill Toads

No matter what, do not kill toads! Do not use poison or some other unethical way of eradicating these wonderful creatures. It is not necessary to kill toads and in some places, it can be illegal if the species is protected. 

Call your local animal control department for more information about what type of toad you captured, and what you can legally do with it in your jurisdiction. For example, Cane Toads are invasive species in Florida and Australia, and there are location-specific ways of dealing with them which you should discuss with a qualified professional.

Do Not Move Toads to Another Area of Town

Do not bring the toad to another area of town! My grandfather was doing that with squirrels he did not want in his garden and this is a terrible idea. They will try to find their way back and can die in the process. A much more constructive way of preventing toads from coming back is to toad-proof your window wells and yard.

Be sure to check out our complete guide on relocating frogs since it may be illegal to move a toad in your area. We included phone numbers you can call in that article or more information.

Prevent Toads From Falling Into Your Window Wells

If you are determined to keep them out of your window wells, or your backyard and garden altogether, here are a few things you can do.

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Toad-Proof Your Window Wells

You can toad-proof your window wells to prevent them from falling on once you remove them. There are a few ways you can do this. The best thing you could do is purchase a very tight grill like specialized window well grids, or add a ramp to allow toads to escape. Make sure the grill would not let anything larger than the size of a penny pass through it since toads can be very small. A grill could also help keep larger predators like skunks, raccoons and cats out of your window wells.

You could also create a chickenwire ramp like the one in the image below, but this is better for small animals. Toads do not climb well and the chickenwire holes are generally too large for many toads. A plastic window well cover is also a solution to keep toads out of your window wells, but it needs to be super tight so nothing falls in. Anything that falls through the plastic will probably die.

Toads do eat bugs in your window well which can prevent pests from getting into your home. So if you do not mind having toads in your window well, be sure to accommodate them. We have a complete guide on how to safely keep toads in a window well here.

Toad-Proof Your Yard to Keep Toads Out

You can stop toads from entering your backyard by putting up tight, smooth, solid fencing around your yard that is at least 50cm (20 inches) above and below ground since toads cannot climb that high and should not dig further than 50cm.

Get rid of anything that attracts toads in your backyard, including pet food, compost, and garbage. Remove standing water, pet water bowls, and ponds. Toads are active at night and search for light sources where bugs like moths are present so also turn off any lights that are not in use and that could attract bugs (CTNF).

Remove anything that could shelter toads including small rock structures, piles of leaves, shrubs, tall grass, logs, and fallen branches. Be sure to clean up any clutter notably man-made items including pool toys, tarps, bags of leaves, potted plants placed on grass, kids toys, and unnecessary structures.

More About Toads in Window Wells

Here are some more things you can do to get rid of toads and keep them off your property depending on where you found them:

Questions Related to Toads in a Window Well

Is it Good to Have Toads in Your Yard? Toads can be great to have in your yard because they eat many common pests including mosquitoes, slugs, snails, and earwigs. Some even eat small rodents like mice depending on the species. They can be excellent for natural pest control.

Why is There a Toad in my Yard? Toads are attracted to backyards because they are an ideal environment with many hiding places and an abundance of bugs to eat. Toads enjoy urban environments with yards because humans create ideal habitats for them with piles of dead leaves, 

What to do if You Find a Toad? If you find a toad in the wild, leave it alone. If you have toads in your backyard and want to get rid of them, toad-proof your yard by removing anything that attracts them including garbage, pet food, and humid surfaces. Do not kill them or move them to another part of town.

How do I Get Rid of Toads in my Yard? You can get rid of toads in your yard by removing them with a net or gloves, and placing them 2 meters outside your property. Then toad-proof your yard by removing anything that attracts them including garbage, pet food, and humid surfaces. Do not kill them or move them to another part of town.