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Toad Basics - Keeping ground-dwelling Toads. A care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

This is a discussion on Toad Basics - Keeping ground-dwelling Toads. A care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates within the Toad Care Articles forums, part of the Care Articles category; Toad Care Basics - Care of Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Alytes, and other Ground-Dwelling Toads by John P. Clare Caring for ...

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    Thumbs up Toad Basics - Keeping ground-dwelling Toads. A care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    Toad Care Basics - Care of Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Alytes, and other Ground-Dwelling Toads
    by John P. Clare


    Caring for toads in captivity - as pets or otherwise. This article covers most if not all species of US and European ground dwelling toads, including the multitude of Bufo/Anaxyrus in the US and Europe, and the Spadefoot toads. This is aimed at people who have decided to keep a toad but know little about them and want to give them good basic care in a hurry. This seems to happen a lot. The info presented here is not intended for fire-belly toads (Bombina).


    Texas Toad, Bufo speciosus East Texas Toad, Bufo woodhousii
    velatus
    Couch's Spadefood Toad,
    Scaphiopus couchii
    Photos ©John P. Clare / FrogForum.net

    Container/Vivarium/Terrarium (all the same thing):

    • These toads live on the ground so you want more surface area than height.
    • A rudimentary, cheap but very functional container is a 55 litre/58 quart plastic storage container sold in Walmart in the US, or anything similar elsewhere in the world. Make sure you pick up the lid when you buy the box (make sure the lid snaps on securely so that the toads can't escape!). Such a container could comfortably house at least 2 of any US or European species with the exception of adult Cane/Marine Toads and Colorado River/Sonoran Desert Toads - these guys are just too big to keep more than 2 adults in a container like this, and even that is pushing it.
    • Alternatives: an old aquarium with a good lid, and for very temporary housing, a sturdy cardboard box.
    • Punching some holes in the lid with a screw driver is good for ventilation. A more sophisticated approach is to cut a section out of the centre of the lid using a craft knife (box cutter) and then glue an over-sized piece of window mesh onto the lid over the hole using a hobby glue gun - this glue is safe enough once it's solid and cold - a quick rinse with water prior to using the lid is helpful.

    Substrate (what stuff the toads will run around on or burrow in):

    • Additive-free top soil or potting soil from a garden centre or hardware shop/store is ideal. You can use your garden's soil provided it has not had chemicals sprayed or added to it in at least 6 months.
    • Coconut fibre (sold under various brand names as a compressed brick that you soak in a bucket of water overnight to expand).
    • Very temporary: paper towl or newspaper - these foul very easily and do not provide a stable environment for your toads, so only use if absolutely necessary and only for a short time. Burrowing species (including most species of Bufonid west of the central US, many southern European/North African species, all spadefoots) will suffer a lot of stress after a day or two on a substrate into which they cannot burrow so bear this in mind - stress leads to disease. Paper towel contains bleaching agents, unless explicitly stated to not contain them - these can be harmful to toads and frogs.
    • If you use a real substrate like top soil, provide at least 2 inches. Most of these toads burrow to some extent, some more so than others. This will make them feel more secure.

    Hides/Cover:

    • Halved hollow logs are great for this and are commonly sold in pet shops, or you can provide your own. There are artificial versions made of plastic that are very good too.
    • Slabs of flat wood are good too - the toads will burrow underneath them.
    • Plants will be uprooted and damaged so find robust species if you must use plants. Otherwise go with the artificial versions sold in pet shops and hobby shops.
    • Some species like their own private space so give several hides if you have several toads. It's always good for a lone toad to give more than one hiding space too.

    Food/Feeding:

    • Most toads have a hard time eating earthworms so those are usually not on the menu for these guys.
    • Crickets are a good staple - don't use wild caught ones because they pose a parasite risk and are often high in dangerous pesticides that can hurt or kill your toad. Suitable crickets are usually available from good pet shops and can be mail ordered online. If you've just found your toad, the chances are it won't eat right away so a 1-2 day mail order delivery of crickets is fine and should save you money over buying locally.
    • Captive cultured cockroaches are excellent but are expensive unless you culture them yourself.
    • If feeding crickets, make sure you gutload them first. This means you feed the crickets for at least a few hours, preferably a few days, prior to offering them to the toads. This increases the nutritional value of the crickets. A simple and cheap cricket food is tropical fish flakes. Commercial cricket diets are available too.
    • Mealworms and Superworms are suitable food, depending on the size of your toad but it's best to go with smaller than bigger because the big ones can do damage with their biting jaws.
    • If you have baby toads (called toadlets) you will need to offer fruit flies (captive cultured, not the wild kind - too messy) or pinhead or very small crickets.
    • Outside of winter you can offer food every 2-3 days to adult or well grown juvenile toads. Toadlets should be fed daily. In winter, depending on how cold, the toads may not eat at all.

    Temperature and Moisture:

    • Outside of winter, if you don't know what kind of toad you have, a safe range for most American toad species is from 15-25 degrees C (that's 59-77 degrees F to Americans and old fashioned British people!). European species should be kept a little cooler unless you know the individual species' requirements.
    • Don't keep in sunlight.
    • Don't keep near heat sources unless you know that it is required by the toad species in question and the heating method is safe for amphibians.
    • A water bowl is a good idea for all species - just put an inch (2.5 cm) or less of water in it, and it doesn't have to be big. It's a good idea to use dechlorinator (sold by pet shops and many supermarkets) to treat the water before you let the toads use it.
    • Toads don't drink but they will sometimes soak in the water.
    • A brief daily misting of water using a mister bottle does no harm.
    • Toads generally like their homes a little drier than frogs, so don't go overboard with the misting.

    Finally, from a pet point of view, most wild toads are quite nervous when first caught - give them time and don't expose them to loud noises and bright lights. Try interacting with them a little each day - take the lid off and have a look, feed them, etc. They don't like being touched or handled - these are definitely a "look, don't touch pet".

    Good luck!
    Last edited by John; July 30th, 2011 at 03:33 AM. Reason: Gave the toad species names for the photos.
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    Default re: Toad Basics: Keeping ground-dwelling Toads - care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    Very good. Maybe I can write a similar sheet for treefrogs.
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    Default re: Toad Basics: Keeping ground-dwelling Toads - care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    Go for it.
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    Default Re: Toad Basics: Keeping ground-dwelling Toads - care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    Good stuff. One suggestion, rather than poking holes in the plastic container with a screw driver (which can look ugly) you can heat one up on the stove and slide it through the plastic, which looks much cleaner.
    I kept my toad on a substrate of additive free soil mixed with a bit of smooth sand, to help keep it aerated and loamy, rather than muddy and goopy.

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    Default Re: Toad Basics: Keeping ground-dwelling Toads - care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    That's a good suggestion. I wrote this with the emphasis on phrase I used in it: "good basic care in a hurry".
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    Default Re: Toad Basics: Keeping ground-dwelling Toads - care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    Quote Originally Posted by Ra View Post
    Good stuff. One suggestion, rather than poking holes in the plastic container with a screw driver (which can look ugly) you can heat one up on the stove and slide it through the plastic, which looks much cleaner.
    I kept my toad on a substrate of additive free soil mixed with a bit of smooth sand, to help keep it aerated and loamy, rather than muddy and goopy.

    I use a soldering iron to make holes in plastic containers.
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    Default Re: Toad Basics: Keeping ground-dwelling Toads - care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    hello all,

    my kids found a toad in our backyard and would like to keep it. it looks like the picture second from the left at the top of the initial post. as for now we have it in a 10 gal. aquarium with dirt from the backyard and some rocks. what is the best way to start out with this little venture?

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    Default Re: Toad Basics: Keeping ground-dwelling Toads - care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    i mean looks like the first pic on the left

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    Default Re: Toad Basics: Keeping ground-dwelling Toads - care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    Welcome to the forum Sku. My first post details everything you need to know to get started. If you post a photo we can try and identify the toad for you. Also, telling us the name of the state where you live in the US will help narrow down the possibilities. If you live in a big state, north/south/east/west will help too.
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    Default Re: Toad Basics: Keeping ground-dwelling Toads - care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    Thank you for the information on Toad Care. I just found a toad in St. Louis, MO over the weekend (oct 18th). He seemed very cold and his front arm is a bit weak. I purchased a tank and some moss along with a hollow tree like item. I also put in this tank a shallow pool of water.( I will replace the tap water with purified water from the store today). I was told to place a light above him by the pet store. While reading the information on this site it doesn't recommend light (I already owned a UVA/UVB light from a turtle we onced owned). Should I remove the light all together. I am keeping him in the tank in our home. Will this be warm enough without a light? I also did purchase some live crickets for him or her and placed some lettuce in the tank. Do they eat all year long or do they hibernate at some point? I did't want to wake him up just to eat if he or she is in hibernation. Thanks for any assistance.

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    Default Re: Toad Basics: Keeping ground-dwelling Toads - care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    The light is not nessisary. Why the lettuce?
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    Default Re: Toad Basics: Keeping ground-dwelling Toads - care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    Thanks for the post and answer to the light question. I put lettuce in the tank becasue my turtle loved to eat lettuce and at that point I hadn't purchased the crickets yet.

    How about the hibernation issue. Will the toad wake up on his own to eat? Should I just keep purchasing crickets and putting them in his tank if he seems to be sleeping/hibernation?

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    Default Re: Toad Basics: Keeping ground-dwelling Toads - care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    If he eats them then keep feeding him. Amphibians only eat insects and other animals (except for a single fruit eating frog) and they are not reptiles - nothing like your tortoise.
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    Default Re: Toad Basics - Keeping ground-dwelling Toads. A care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    Hello John, My daughter and I enjoyed your article on toad care. We have three Egyptian toads we bought from a local pet store about 2 years ago. My daughter just loves them, but lately they have been getting a clear slime on there bodies. Is this normal? She picks it off them with tweezers. They have a good size water dish which is changed daily with dechlorinated water. Any ideas? Thanks Ali-k-Frog..and dad

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    Default Re: Toad Basics - Keeping ground-dwelling Toads. A care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    Sounds like shed skin.
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    Default Re: Toad Basics - Keeping ground-dwelling Toads. A care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    Thanks, I was googling toad slime and did not come up with much. But shedding skin does. It makes sense now as she thought Jerry was choking on slime when he was in fact eating it.

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    Default Re: Toad Basics - Keeping ground-dwelling Toads. A care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    You're welcome. Most new frog owners go into a panic when they first see their frog shedding. So, I suspected that this was the case here.
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    Default Re: Toad Basics - Keeping ground-dwelling Toads. A care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    Just wondering?? Are the sour apple blue worms healthy for my cane toad? She also likes those huge madagascar hissing roaches...?? So far she has been fine with them,but any input would be appreciated. Thanks!
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    Default Re: Toad Basics - Keeping ground-dwelling Toads. A care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    Quote Originally Posted by beaux mitchell View Post
    Just wondering?? Are the sour apple blue worms healthy for my cane toad? She also likes those huge madagascar hissing roaches...?? So far she has been fine with them,but any input would be appreciated. Thanks!
    The hissers are fine since she is big enough to eat them. Generally speaking cane toads do fine eating almost any kind of insect. They can even handle many noxious species that other things will not eat. That toughness and adaptability in addition to their own toxins is what makes them such a pest in tropical areas where they have been introduced. I am not familiar with "sour apple blue worms" but assuming we are talking some type of insect and not gummy worm candy it is probably fine.

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    Default Re: Toad Basics - Keeping ground-dwelling Toads. A care sheet for Bufo, Anaxyrus, Spea, Scaphiopus, Ollotis, Alytes, Pelobates

    hi there! this is my first post. i have 2 american toadlets that have just morphed their front legs .. one of them is a day further along than the other and has started venturing out of the water. but! he seems to like to climb the sides of the tank. i have a lid on it, but i'm afraid that, being so tiny, he'll get squished between the lid and tank or because he's not totally landbound yet, dry out or something awful. can anyone recommend anything to keep him from getting too high up the wall? thanks in advance!

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