Indoor and Outdoor Dangers to Toads and Frogs
article copyright Toadily Toads, 2004, do not reprint without permission
All you need to do is a simple web search and you will see that amphibians around the world are in trouble. And as they are the "beacons of nature", it means we are in trouble, too. But then, you knew that, right?
Human greed is one of the most powerful forces on earth and almost impossible to combat and it is undoubtedly at the root of all environmental crisises. Clear cutting is continuing to destroy not only the rainforests, but also forests located everywhere else. Toxic dumping continues to destroy both land and water sources. Chemicals, sludge, broken glass, sharp rusted metal, animal traps intended for other unfortunate creatures, acid rain, pesticides and a host of other horrible dangers are now found everywhere. These things hurt all wild life and in the end, humans too. But pollution doesn't stop outside.
Indoor and garden dangers lurk everywhere, too. The average home might not be much safer than the polluted outdoor environment I've described above. For example, if you use repellents to get rid of unwanted insects in your home, you might be exposing your frogs and toads to deadly fumes which mist up in the air and land as micro-particles in their tanks and thus contaminate the dirt and water. Oh sure, the box or can might say its "safe for pets", but it isn't. Usually by "pets" they mean dogs and cats. I doubt its safe for them either, but it is absolutely not safe to toads and frogs. The same is true of household cleaners. Even Lysol and window sprays must not be used in the vicinity of amphibians and if you must use anything, try to minimize the usage. Keep the room well ventilated and temporarily cover the animal's tanks. Remember, you are much bigger and do not breath through your skin to the extent that they do. Its important to put yourself in their place. If you can smell it, its a potential hazard to animals.
Frankly, it is always preferable to keep your toads and frogs in a dedicated room that is sealed off from the rest of the house and optimally, is continuously running a hepa/ion combination filter. Even if the dedicated room is your bedroom, at least if you keep the door shut and a filter running, both you and your amphibian friends will enjoy the benefits of being in a cleaner air environment. You would definitely notice the difference of how much better you sleep.
In the garden, the use of pesticides can kill amphibians. If you use a chemical pesticide in your garden, you won't likely find many frogs or toads there. Organic gardens are not only safer for you, but attract toads. Toads are a garden's best friend. Pesticides are deadly to toads and in the end, to you, who is ingesting the chemicals through food and/or exposure. Like pesticides, the same is true if anyone is tossing old cigarette butts on the lawn. As they decompose, toxic carcinogens leak from the used filters into the soil. The dark brown staining on the filter contains the equivalent of a small toxic waste dump. This is why smoke is so deadly and destroys human lung tissue. It is likewise dangerous to animals, especially small animals.
The fact is that it takes many, many years for the filters to decompose completely. Not only is it a nasty and uncouth habit, you can be sure you are hurting frogs and toads and your lawn. Even the birds who eat the worms are affected as the deadly chemicals seep into your soil. It would only take the remaining nicotine found in 200 butts to kill a human, so imagine being a worm or other small insect or a frog or toad trying to soak your backside in order to hydrate, but instead, you're soaking that deadly yellow-brown water because there was a cigarette butt in your water!!!! Please read this short page for some more food for thought. The article titled, "Mother Earth is Not An Ashtray" was written by cessetion councelor John Polito: http://whyquit.com/whyquit/A_Butts.html.
Get an outdoor ashtray that is windproof and won't leak in the rain. Even a big bucket with sand is vastly better than throwing discarded cigarette butts on the lawn! Sure some of you might be laughing, but trust me when I tell you I have known people who did this! I even got a letter from a woman who told me her husband did this and it wasn't until a few years after his death to emphysema that she found toads coming around to her yard. She had lived there 12 years and never seen one.
Of course, everybody is aware of the dangers of second hand smoke and environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). There is no safe level of it for either the smoker or anyone or anything in its path. Frogs and toads need lots of clean air because they breath through their skins. Many smokers do not realize how badly they stink and how badly their home stinks. When people smoke indoors, the smoke is not just comprised of air. It is latent with things like tar and nicotine and about 4,000 other chemicals. Some of these chemicals are illegal and have been banned, but regardless of how lethal they are, they are still sold in cigarettes, legally! All these components land on clothing, furniture, walls and carpets and quickly begin to outgas with that familair stench. Just clean a mirror or even a wall with windex and a paper towel and you can see the nastiest film settled on the item you are cleaning. With this in mind, imagine being a tiny frog or toad relying on fresh air!
The obvious best solution is to stop smoking in your house, both for your own sake and theirs. Its bad enough to smoke, but if you smoke indoors, you are committed to breathing in all the ETS which does not dissipate so quickly. You are far better off to get an outdoor ashtray or pail and go outside (yes, even in the cold - that's what coats and gloves are for; if my husband did it, anyone can; though thankfully he's quit). If you refuse to stop smoking in your house, don't keep animals. Its not fair to them. Every living thing has a right to clean air! A smoker removes that right from anyone in their path (and sadly, usually doesn't care). Failing all that, the next best solution is to dedicate a room to the animals where nobody smokes and then put a hepa/ion filter in the room which runs 24/7. This will not eliminate the smoke. A non-smoker or former smoker can tell as soon as they walk in. But it will reduce it to some extent and the animals are better off than they would be without it.
Another source of serious indoor pollution is from paints and particularly airbrushing. If you airbrush indoors, you should wear a respirator, and the room should have an exhaust fan. The fine mist that comes from an airbrush is not safe to breath and should be kept far away from your pets. If you must airbrush in a room with your toads, you should move the toads to another room or better yet, move your airbrushing operation to another room if possible.
The fact is, amphibians are wild animals. Even those bred for the pet trade are not domesticated animals. If you are going to keep them, keep them safe and provide them with what they need most - clean air and clean water. Proper cleanliness in their tank, clean air and clean, purified water are your best bets to keeping amphibians successfully.