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Thread: Emergency! Sick American Toad... IDK what’s wrong!

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    Unhappy Emergency! Sick American Toad... IDK what’s wrong!

    Hello everyone! I have been browsing this forum for the past three months and it has helped me tremendously in caring for my 4 juvenile Am Toads. I found them in September and my plan is to overwinter and release them in the spring to a location where they have become sparse. To save on time, I will tell you that all conditions/requirements have been met & maintained regarding their habitat/environment, diet, water/humidity, etc... They have all been thriving until lastnight, which is when I discovered the following...
    Lastnight I found one toad which was struggling to walk, seemed dry and eyes were closing. It didn’t appear to be bloated and I felt no blockages/impactions. Placed it in the water bowl (which I add a few drops of liquid vitamins with each new change) and it leaned face first, having trouble to walk out. Seemed cold and became increasingly motionless. Wrapped it in a very moist, slightly warm cloth, then noticed some shedding that I gently helped to remove. Normally it has no problem with its shedding process. Gave it a warm bath, not too warm, and its eyes began to open more and it attempted to jump but was weak. It was a couple days since I last fed them crickets but there is always a dish of wax worms & mealies that they eat from. I was afraid that maybe it passed on eating so I force fed 2 baby earthworms, about 1” Long each. I did observe the toad swallowing them. After 4 hours of warming, moistening and feeding… it looked a bit more normal… eyes opened, but still not moving, especially it’s front legs that it seems to be pulling inward and tucked. At 1am I place it back into the tank and it continued to lean forward so I positioned it to prevent its nose from laying in the substrate. I checked on it at 4am and there was no movement, eyes still open, very slow breathing. Woke up at 9am and it’s still in the same position (which normally she is hiding or partially buried), eyes open, front legs tucked in, back legs are marginally splayed, and very little throat movement. When I touch it, it does try to move it’s legs but it’s not walking. I have searched the internet and cannot find what could be wrong. I believe it is a female because it doesn’t vocalize like the male one does. It’s name is Chanchu. Current tank temp is 68’ and humidity is 58’. The other 3 toads are partially dug into the substrate. Every now and then Chanchu twitches her back legs but no attempt to walk/move. I am thinking about moving her to a different container and providing more heat. Some other info I can give you is I also have small black slugs and roly-poly’s in the tank to help with tank cleaning and maintenance. There are also a lot of springtails and reddish mites, but not to the point of infestation. I read that they are not of any concern, or should I really be concerned? Another thought that I have is… I have a piece of curved bark that is buried halfway into the substrate and is used as a hiding place. Chanchu spends a lot of time in that location and I am wondering if there are any chemicals and/or ammonia that is possibly being released and has been absorbed by the toads? So here is where we stand... It has been 14 hours and Chanchu is in the same position, in the same location, no sign of bloat, does not want to eat, eyes are half open but appear clear, no throat movement, slight breathing, skin is sticky/clammy. She looks like a rubber statue! Here are my questions...

    • Should I half bury her in damp substrate or leave her in the open?
    • Should I continue warm baths? If so, is there anything I can add to the water to help her?
    • Should I continue to force feed her? If so, can I grind up insects/worms and syringe the mixture into her mouth? Also, would you recommend for me to add a drop of the liquid bird vitamins (Vita-Sol) that I have been adding to their water bath?

    I cannot afford a vet visit so I am relying on research and your expertise! Any suggestions, advice, or thoughts would be greatly appreciated!! Many thanks!!!
    ps. I would post a pic but don’t know how!

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    Default Re: Emergency! Sick American Toad... IDK what’s wrong!

    I’m so sorry. thats a scary situation. Yes half burying is a good idea. Warm baths may help with temp if nothing else. Pedialyte is good to add. Force/syringe feeding is alright if necessary and in this case it obviously is. I wouldn’t add vitamins made for other species in her state. I’ll post a screenshot of how to post a pic.



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    Default Re: Emergency! Sick American Toad... IDK what’s wrong!

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    Default Re: Emergency! Sick American Toad... IDK what’s wrong!

    There are two situations I've experienced before which sound similar to what you're dealing with. In one situation my toad was just severely dehydrated, and I put it in a critter keeper with soaked paper towels for a few days and it was fine.

    The other is something I've experienced more, and sadly haven't found a cure for yet. Sometimes during the winter, I've found American toads will be in a semi-brumation state and won't eat or move much. They don't come out of this state and generally pass away the following summer. Its not completely impossible that the toad may be trying to brumate but it is too warm to. I've never brumated any animals Burt you may be able to see if your issue is related to this by during some research.

    Best of luck!
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    Default Re: Emergency! Sick American Toad... IDK what’s wrong!

    Responding to the comment above it seems to be more natural then you think. The toads will go into a state of dormancy roughly around a month to four months possibly being the longest. this is not brumation because the temperature and conditions do not get down low enough but the toads internal clock tells it to begin slowing down. So the toad responds to the time of the year and it sleeps.

    I have heard many keepers of the species talk about this, and I also have a toad in my care who has done this every year for the past 4 years and he is still with us. If you let the toad alone meaning you do not touch the toad and you allow it to rest then it should be fine. you can still missed the enclosure and give freshwater as you normally would in case the toad wakes up and needs to hydrate. If you need more information on this part I can help you. I'm using my voice command on my phone so I apologize if this sounds long-winded.

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    Default Re: Emergency! Sick American Toad... IDK what’s wrong!

    Thank you everyone for your input!! My toads have slowed down a lot since entering the cold season and their appetite had decreased but with some of the milder weather we’ve been having in NE PA, they seem to sense it and have increased their activity slightly. It was a bit frustrating at first because I was spending so much time in making sure that they were eating… I would spend an hour and a half each evening feeding them and then watched them slowly lose interest as they began to somewhat hibernate. I had finally reached the point where I placed a shallow dish with wax worms and mealies in their tank, which they eventually discovered and begin feeding from, but I did not know what or how often each one of them were eating. So, at least every other day I made sure to personally feed & watch each of them eat. If they refused to eat after 20 minutes, I knew they weren’t hungry or already fed from the dish. With that said... I have grim news!
    Lastnight I had gone out to dinner for a couple hours with my family and when I returned home, I found that Chanchu had died! As a desperate attempt to revive him, I soaked him in warm water and begin chest compressions, which did not work. Funny as that may sound, I have been able to resuscitate other creatures before, however not successfully in this case! After taking some time to figure out what the problem might have been, and to also protect and prevent the same thing from happening to my remaining 3 toads, I had to make an unconventional decision. Some may not agree or understand, but I decided to perform an autopsy/dissection. After I had pulled myself together, said a prayer and completed the autopsy, I came to the following conclusion based on the findings.

    All internal organs appeared normal and healthy, with the exception of a large amount of substrate found in the lower intestine, which resulted in an impaction, even though I was not able to feel it upon my initial palpations the night before. I was also able to determine that Chanchu was in fact a male, as I was able to identify the testes. The stomach contents revealed the earthworms that I had force-fed him the night before. There was a good amount of fat distributed throughout his body, as he had always been a healthy eater and was not anorexic. The contents of the impaction seemed to be almost entirely made up of substrate material, which I use Zilla Jungle Mix. There was no trace of chitlin or other insect remains. So I was left wondering how he could have ingested so much substrate? I began to think about the slugs and the roly-polies that are in the tank. Chanchu loved to eat roly-polies, which die if they are left in the feeding dish, so they just roam around. Since isopods have 7 sets of legs, they quickly attach to materials, in this case the substrate, as their predators make contact. In the case of toads… As they strike with their sticky tongue, they not only grab the roly-polies but they also grab whatever the roly-polies are attached to. The slugs, having sticky and slimy mucus covered bodies, will also have pieces of substrate stuck to them as well. So if he was feeding on the slugs, I can assume he was also ingesting substrate in that manner.


    During the moments after, and continuing into today, my mind has been going down many rabbit holes of what ifs, which I have to tell myself to stop! I had spent an incredible amount of time researching what I needed to know about caring for toads, which included educating myself about their food staples and how to maintain & breed those species, as well! I learned a lot by browsing this forum, so I must thank you all for posting so much detail!! I learned about impaction and all the symptoms make sense, especially the splayed back legs as an impaction can press against the spinal cord causing motor impairment/paralysis. However, I was still not able to feel it, so I didn’t treat it and I am feeling a great deal of regret! I am removing the remaining slugs but considering on leaving the roly polies, as there are only a few that I can see and they are helping to maintain the tank. I can only learn from this experience and be prepared should this happen again! I am always learning but hate when it is at the expense of a creature losing it’s life! I’ll never take that lightly! Most of my family & friends think I’m crazy but I just see things from a different perspective!


    Ps... I handled the autopsy scientifically/inquisitively, treated Chanchu with dignity & respect, and broke down hard afterwards! His remains will be cremated and ashes spread in the garden he was meant to roam!!

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    Default Re: Emergency! Sick American Toad... IDK what’s wrong!

    I'm in central PA and I have problems with parasites with my toads. It's very difficult keeping wild frogs and toads. I hope that you stay on the forum and continue to ask questions that you have so we can help you.

    I work with American toads and I am studying them for research. They are one of the few specialized species I work with.

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    Default Re: Emergency! Sick American Toad... IDK what’s wrong!

    I'm sorry to hear about your loss. I personally exclusively tong feed or feed out of the enclosure to prevent substrate ingestion. However, sometimes this will still just happen, and with toads being such ferocious eaters they'll go after anything, including micro fauna. I'd consider trying to remove the isopods (roly pollies) if your other toads are going after them.

    When feeding worms and such that live in and tend to get substrate stuck to them I always rinse them off thoroughly. You did the best you could and clearly know what you're doing. At least you kept him comfortable.
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    Default Re: Emergency! Sick American Toad... IDK what’s wrong!

    They won’t feed from the tongs, I have tried & tried! I’ve also tried putting them in a separate plastic container, without any substrate, but that just stresses them out and all they do is pee all over. However, I am going to keep trying that, letting them in there a little longer each time to hopefully get them acclimated, especially when feeding worms. As you said, the worms get covered with substrate and I rinse them off as well but they squirm away to quickly back into the substrate. If I can get them acclimated to a separate enclosure, I could rest easy feeding them the rolies and the worms!

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    Default Re: Emergency! Sick American Toad... IDK what’s wrong!

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Wardog View Post
    I'm in central PA and I have problems with parasites with my toads. It's very difficult keeping wild frogs and toads. I hope that you stay on the forum and continue to ask questions that you have so we can help you.

    I work with American toads and I am studying them for research. They are one of the few specialized species I work with.

    Sent from my BKL-L04 using Tapatalk
    That’s interesting! I have been watching/studying toads outside for more than 20 years! I actually had a female resident that I watched and fed for 8 years!! I also have a very large male that had been visiting me all summer. He would come to my door at least twice a week and I would go out in the yard and find him worms... while my dog sat next to him and watched him! If he happened to move, my dog would follow and sit next to him, showing me where he was! And my door isn’t easy to get to... my dog has hip issues so I have a ramp that leads into my carport where my entry door is. The little guy figured out where to sit and wait for me! I’ll try to upload a pic of him! Question... what kind of parasites have you found in your toads, how did you find them... symptoms??? When I did the dissection, I didn’t find any evidence of internal parasites but I imagine for some a microscope would be needed?? I definitely plan to stay connected with the forum! I love the stories and continue to learn! I am also looking forward to sharing whatever info I have or experiences! Thanks for the welcome!!
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    Default Re: Emergency! Sick American Toad... IDK what’s wrong!

    I also have a bunch of pics of critters that I was blessed enough to witness & watch this past summer. In early spring I stumbled across an adult Spotted Salamander and in early fall, I found 8 babies during a weekend trip to our family cabin in Bradford county. I felt bad for one little guy because he had a deformed front leg! It was an exciting summer filled with spiders, caterpillars, moths, sallies, giant beetles and baby mantids & more!!! I am eagerly awaiting spring!!��
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    Default Re: Emergency! Sick American Toad... IDK what’s wrong!

    Quote Originally Posted by ToadilyNuts4Nature View Post
    That’s interesting! I have been watching/studying toads outside for more than 20 years! I actually had a female resident that I watched and fed for 8 years!! I also have a very large male that had been visiting me all summer. He would come to my door at least twice a week and I would go out in the yard and find him worms... while my dog sat next to him and watched him! If he happened to move, my dog would follow and sit next to him, showing me where he was! And my door isn’t easy to get to... my dog has hip issues so I have a ramp that leads into my carport where my entry door is. The little guy figured out where to sit and wait for me! I’ll try to upload a pic of him! Question... what kind of parasites have you found in your toads, how did you find them... symptoms??? When I did the dissection, I didn’t find any evidence of internal parasites but I imagine for some a microscope would be needed?? I definitely plan to stay connected with the forum! I love the stories and continue to learn! I am also looking forward to sharing whatever info I have or experiences! Thanks for the welcome!!
    It's great to meet another Pennsylvanian who loves toads! I have found many parasites and I will explain more in a post that I created about my toad enclosure. I will share the link on here for you to see my experiences!

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    Default Re: Emergency! Sick American Toad... IDK what’s wrong!

    Here is my project that I'm working on

    https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink/top...ink_source=app

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