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Unnerved by a toad - Penny Snowden



I was gardening when I found I had picked up a toad in my hands. I don’t know what it is about them but I find I’m squeamish and let it go quite quickly. If only it had made a leisurely exit things would have been fine. However, it glared at me and didn’t move! I carried on picking up weeds and giving it a widish berth. The toad continued to squat and, I swear, glowered at me.


Common toads vary from dark brown, grey and olive green to sandy-coloured. They have broad, squat bodies and warty skin. They tend to walk rather than hop and are widespread and common here.


They excavate a shallow burrow that they return to after foraging for prey. They secrete an irritant substance from their skin and puff themselves up to defer predators. My toad was obviously not threatened by me as he just glared.


They are ‘good guys’ as they eat insects, slugs and worms but I still have a problem with them. This may be because they are traditionally negative symbols: they are commonly viewed as demonic creatures, often magical yet evil.


In many legends toads figure as the guardian of treasures but also because of its transformation from tadpole to maturity a symbol of resurrection and rebirth, they are a symbol of change as they go through these various bodily changes - from egg to tadpole -to legs - to toad.


It doesn’t help - I still am unnerved by them.


Also to ‘toady’ relates to person who behaves obsequiously to someone important. Of course, there is also the well-loved character Toad of Toad Hall. You can even build them a den in your garden (no thanks) I’m afraid none of this helps. I’m still unnerved.




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