Living In The Window Well

If you are lucky enough to live in a house with window wells, and in an area where toads are living, then you might have found toads living in the window wells. If you are a city dweller who has either never had a house with window wells, or lived in an apartment all your life, then you probably aren't aware that toads often dwell right up against houses. If you are lucky enough to have window wells and live in a toad populated area, there are things you can do to attract toads to your window wells.

First off, what exactly is a window well? Well, it looks like the picture below. It's a dug out, recessed area near a basement window. This one is at the home of my family in Woodstock, NY. My husband and I (sadly) have no window wells were we live. Our home has no basement.

typical window well

To encourage toads, frogs, newts, salamanders and insects to dwell in this place, the main thing to do is keep it moist and be sure there is plenty of leaf cover. Under the leaves is dirt and rocks. Toads can burrow in the dirt and insects can hide under the rocks. Keeping this moist by watering it fairly regularly will really keep it in good condition to attract animals. If the leaves begin to break down during the summer, you can scout for more and add them to the well. The leaves are very important because they provide shelter from the sun and a place to hide from predators. The leaves retain much needed moisture and also attract insects which the toads eat. Think of the window well as a miniature ecosystem.

This adorable young bufo americanus female was uncovered in the well. American toads are nocturnal, as are most toads, so the leaf cover is really important. It is their salvation from the sun.

In another window well, I found this pickerel frog. These frogs have similar requirements to toads. They all seem to enjoy life in the well together. Still, I would not house them together indoors. As a matter of policy, I prefer to always keep different species in different tanks. In the wide open space of the outdoors, animals have more opportunity to avoid eachother or to escape than they would in a small enclosed tank. We do not advocate taking healthy, normal animals out of nature.

The window well is a popular hang out. Here we see a newt about to leap in. On the wall is a multi-legged insect that is not going to live long in that well.

Isn't he cute!

Looks like somebody is hiding in the window well. Can you spot them? Good camouflage, huh?

There is plenty of room for everyone.

Now of course, there is no law that says you can't make the window well an even more spectacular a place to dwell. Take the case of a lucky bufo boreas in Colorado named Thomasina. She has a deluxe suite! Cindy Bolton of Colorado has fixed up her window well to create a toad paradise. Click here to view Thomasina's page.