I think I can pin point the exact moment when Squishy started his obsession with toads and frogs. Last spring his cousin spotted a huge adult California toad in the pit.
He became enamored from the very first time it peed on him. Of course I didn’t think that much of it at the time. We got a library book, he erected a little shade canopy from a towel and some sticks, and I sat back thinking it was cute. Every morning for a week, he would wake up wanting to go check on his “toady”. He would catch it delicious bugs, and place them around its borrow. Then one day Toady was gone. Squish was a little sad that he didn’t get to say goodbye, but I could tell it would be a fond memory that would stay with him. I (foolishly) categorized the whole episode in my mind as a cute learning experience about frogs and spring, and moved it from my mind.
Then the invasion happened…
We walked out on the back patio at the end of April, and it looked like the grass was moving. Every few years around our house the conditions will be just right for what I call, a toad swarm. Thousands of tiny toads covered our yard, and thousands more covered our neighbors.
Of course Squish was out there catching them, holding them, laying on the grass and watching them hop.
It seems like this parenting thing is full of choices you never thought about before having kids. At least I never thought I would have to decide if I should let my kid keep tiny toads. That was not in any of the parenting books.
So I said yes, and Squishy started work on the first habitat. We had no idea what to do, which was obvious from our first attempt. I was still operating under the illusion that it was temporary (silly mommy). Then he kept catching more, and more. I counted 100 tiny toads before I told him that we needed to scale back.
We made a deal that he could keep some of his favorites, but the rest needed to go back to their family. We let all but his favorite 20 go. Releasing them in our flower bed, and moved the remaining 20 to a big gray storage tub. Squishy picked out special rocks and wanted to learn more about making them a real habitat. I will admit it took me awhile (I think I was in denial) to realize this was not something that was a passing fancy. It was at this point that we found our local Reptile Room, and sought out expert advice.
The people at the Reptile Room were so patient with Squishy.Walking him through the steps to build his habitat and care for his new pets. Showing him how and what to feed them, and how to care for their food. (Live crickets and meal worms) They did not mind the 100 questions coming from a pint size inquisitor, and even called him a Herpetologist. He thought that was the highest honor of them all!
We got home, and very dutifully followed the experts advice. It’s an open air enclosure that we keep on the patio. 50 toads call this palace home now, and some of them have gotten quite large. We have been releasing some of our old friends, while new friends have been found. Squishy and I have agreed that we are releasing them all this fall so they can hibernate.
It has actually been fun watching the toads through the summer. A learning experience that a book from the library could not replicate. I think I made the right choice, and sometimes it feels good to just say yes. Even if that means that I have to triple check pockets for toads before doing the laundry.
I would love to hear about the animals your kids bring home.