We have slugs, a lot of slugs. I've tried drowning them in buried cups of beer (very effective but the carnage is more than i can bear), picking them up with chopsticks and transplanting them to the trash (time consuming) and just hoping they'd go away. But those tell-tale mucousy trails made it clear they weren't just going away.

For two summers we tried to "entice" some toads into our yard. We put some clay pots on their sides and fluffed decomposing leaves into the bottoms. We arranged them in a shady spot by a large tree and made a rock "garden" of sorts. We left out saucers of water. Nothing. I decided there may be toads in Chicago, but not in at least a 10-block radius. If we were going to get toads in there, we were going to have to import them rather than have it happen organically.

That's where things stalled for another year. You can't just buy any old toad and plop it into your backyard. That's why cane toads and bullfrogs have become nuisances or worse in a lot of areas. So i researched and found out that an indigenous toad for this area is the common American Toad. We started at Petco once i established that they do carry frogs and toads-- but as it turns out only the more exotic species (like tree frogs and such) that people keep indoors as pets.

So i searched the web and found Reptile City. The toads were quite affordable ($6 each) although the shipping was $20. In hindsight this makes sense because how else would you get live toads to you intact if not overnight? We set-up a little enclosure made of sticks and waist-high chicken wire in the afore-mentioned toad spot. We put saucers of water dug into the soil so they are flush with the ground. I got a notice that the package was due to be delivered by 3 pm.

I put a note on the door to make sure the postman rang the doorbell and left my phone number. I stayed close to home but with the ac blowing i missed his steps on the porch. The next time i checked i had a package slip to retrieve the package the next morning! I headed out to the post office and they searched for the package only to come back and tell me it was still on the truck with the driver. I explained the situation and as soon as i mentioned "live toads" that woman leapt into action. She called the driver, found the location of the truck and in 15 minutes the package was in my hand. In the meantime i had gotten a few frantic calls from Reptile City who had been notified about the package not being delivered.

After retrieving the boys we headed home to open the box inside their "habitat." I was very worried because i expected the box to be jumping or something and it was completely still. I opened both layers of packaging and found a cotton drawstring bag which immediately started moving and jumping and generally coming alive. I put that down on the ground inside the chicken wire and gently shook the toads out. Hot dog! 4 toads including a little baby one.

But damn if they weren't much smaller than i had anticipated. Even the biggest one took one look at that chicken wire and hopped right out. Madness ensued. I was running around getting old sheets that i draped around the chicken wire and secured on the bottom with rocks. Once that was more or less done we tackled trying to catch the 3 that had escaped. 2 had already hopped under the fence into our neighbors' yard. And so while holding a toad was not really on my list of to-dos ,i successfully caught and transported those toads back to their enclosure.

Ultimately i'd like them to be "free-range" toads. But for now i'm trying to keep them enclosed so that they adjust and make our yard their home. Tonight i'm going to get metal stakes and make a bigger enclosure out of landscaping fabric. I'm envisioning a toad "run" of sorts. This way the toads have more room and Henry can get in there with them and move around. He spent about 30 minutes in the current enclosure which is only slightly wider around than he is. I'll update with pictures as soon as possible.

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