The March of the Toads by Benjamin McMahon

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March of the Toads
March of the ToadsPhotography by Benjamin McMahon

We take a friendly view of one of the animal kingdom's least beloved creatures, alongside a celebration of unusual pets

From fairy tales to biblical plagues, the toad gets a bad rep. Decidedly unprepossessing, with all that warty skin and the propensity for lurking in dark, clammy corners, they exude menace and slime, while their cheerful cousin the frog is anthropomorphised into beloved television characters. It seems unfair. Frogs and toads share many attributes including protruding eyes, a sinister gait and unpleasant colour ways, and both of them come in extremely poisonous varieties, yet in legend and symbolism, it is always the toad that has borne the brunt of mankind’s dislike – associated to witchcraft by the Europeans, to the twilight by the Chinese and to death by the ancient Egyptians. But defying all this flurry of bad press, a pair of marching toads, captured on camera by photographer Benjamin McMahon, has won the Loves vote for editor Laura Bradley.

So as we sit on the fence, undecided as to whether our position on toads has changed for good, Bradley discusses the best place for a pet amphibian and gets excited about classic comfort food, alongside a gallery of our favourite unusual creatures.

Why did you love these toads?
They are part of a project Benjamin McMahon is working on. He’s got a brilliant eye and we often talk about animals together. He took these pictures with his mother in Yorkshire. 

Where would you keep the picture if you owned it?
In the bathroom. Next to my framed collection of animal penis bones. 

Where would you keep the toads?
In a neighbour’s pond. In reality, I don’t like the idea of them being too close! Neither would my cat. 

What is your favourite toad in popular culture?
Toad in the hole. 

What does it represent to you?

If you discovered a new species of toad, what would you name it?
Toadations. Or Toadz. 

What are you looking forward to about summer?
Finally sorting out our garden. And lying in the sun. 

What was the last thing you bought?
Natura Bisse Diamond White Instant Make-Up Remover. Possibly the best skincare product I’ve ever used – I never believed in “instantly noticeable results” until now.