Zandvlei Trust

A frog he would a wooing go.....(Extract article from the volume 2005/1 Newsletter)

                                                                                     photograph by Ian Landsberg
Winnie Sass taking her chances with "Romeo from Rutter Road".

....well a toad actually, one of our special leopard toads.

One of our Westlake residents Winnie Sass lives about a half a kilometre from the Westlake Pond. Winnie is a caring person who has created a lovely welcoming garden and home at the end of one of our cul-de-sacs. To her amazement she found a Leopard Toad had made himself  welcome under the bedside cabinet in her bedroom. He was a big lad, totally covering the palm of a hand. Neither Winnie, nor more particularly her maid, wanted the toad in the house. So he was marched off to the vlei and returned to the water.

Next night the toad was back beside the bed. He had travelled across open land, along the road through the garden gate in through the gap in the door left open for Winnies five cats, through the lounge along the passageway and into the bedroom.

photograph by Una Hartley
"Romeo" with the bedside cabinet pulled back.

So back to the vlei he went with a stern  admonishment to stay away. Next night he was back beside the bed. How on earth does a toad navigate to a specific spot inside a house when it has been carried away in a closed container?

It soon became clear that this was one very determined toad. Seven times he made the trip back  to the house after being put into the water Sandy and I joined Winnie to return him to the water prior to his last return. He was put in the water at 17h35. At 21h15 he was back in Winnies garden. Next morning he was back under the bedside cabinet. We suggested that Winnie create a hibernation hole for him under a rock in the garden but the maid is adamant that she and the toad cannot share the same space.

So now he's been taken way upstream on the Westlake River. As yet there's no sign of him back here - maybe he's got the message that Winnie is not going to kiss him to see if he turns into a prince!

John Fowkes.

A sequel he did return and that was a distance of more than 2 kilometres!  After being removed 8 times he now has been given permission to stay. Only until breeding season starts in August, when he will naturally go to the water to breed and then hopefully move on somewhere else for Winnies sake.

                                                                photograph by Una Hartley
"Romeo" a closer view of this determined character. He does not like getting his feet wet.

(Leopard Toads live in the undergrowth and even buried underground for some of the year. They forage looking for any thing that can fit into their mouths. Very valuable pest remover in the garden. * They are very mobile trying to get to water from the end of July to mid August, depending on the seasonal rains.
The males call the females to the open water to fertilise the eggs, in the water. Once that has occurred, they both leave the open water and move back for the rest of the year, to live on the land and not in the water.

* This is a particularly vulnerable time for the species as they have to cross roads to get to the water and back to where they came from. They are often decimated by motorists not caring or being ignorant to this fact).

Please take care and save our toads!

Una Hartley still has motorcar window stickers (021) 788 5854


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