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Thread: Best treatment plans for MBD in Western Toads

  1. #1

    Default Best treatment plans for MBD in Western Toads

    Hi, we have two California toads, which I guess are sub-species of Western toads.

    • They are about a year old now. We've been raising them in a 10 gallon terrarium, and change the water every 1-2 days, temps ~72-75, humidity around 50%.
    • We started out feeding them flightless fruit flies when they were toadlets, then switched to mostly mealworms.
    • Admittedly, they got little sun, though we did try to dust food calcium powder now and then (it's ReptoCal Calcium +D3)
    • Both developed what we now know is MBD, though we didn't know soon enough probably. The female is much worse than the male, with a pronounced hump on her back and difficulty moving around. The male also has a hump, though it's smaller and he gets around pretty well.
    • They both have trouble catching meal worms on their own, the worms pretty much need to be right under their mouths for them to successfully eat.
    • They don't seem to like the worms when there is calcium powder on them, but we keep doing it the best we can.
    • We feed them ~2-4 worms each every 2-3 days, dusting the worms when we can. If they aren't very hungry and don't eat much, we just give up and put them back and try to feed the next day. Most times, the next day they eat just fine.
    • We bought UV lights about 3-4 weeks ago, which we've now been trying to use daily.
    • We tried these, but the toads don't seem to like the heat: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0..._title_o00_s00
    • These are LED, which we are mostly using now since they don't get hot: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VS5TWW5/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00
    • After feeding, we usually put them in the water dish, which they seem to like...almost like a bath after the meal.


    Questions:

    1). Should we be switching up their diet to other than just mealworms? We've heard crickets are not very nutritious and they would not be able to catch them anyway. Any other recommendations?
    2). There is almost no information on proper use of UV lights. How much UV? for how long? for how many days? How do we know how much is too much/too little?? Any good LED lights to recommend? We keep the LED light on for 15 to 45 minutes at a time, 1-2x per day). It's fairly low UV power at a distance of ~12 inches, stronger at ~6-10 inches.
    3). How do we know if the MBD is reversible? Can it at least be stabilized? It doesn't seem like it's working as the hump on the male's back seems worse. Some days the female is better, some days she seems worse.
    4). Has anyone tried or tested stirring some of the calcium powder in the water? Would that work/be absorbed?
    5). Any other suggestions for us??

    Thanks much!

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  3. #2
    100+ Post Member Animallover3541's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best treatment plans for MBD in Western Toads

    If you're using Calcium plus D3, then you don't need UVB. UV is what enables reptiles and amphibians to produce D3, which is the vitamin they use to absorb the calcium. Have you regularly been giving them the Calcium supplement in their food? Have you been giving them vitamins? Make sure you're gut loading their feeders too with nutritious food. Try dubia roaches, as they're a very nutritious feeder. They're fairly easy to breed, too-just make sure they're legal in the state you live in.

    In regard to the lighting, are you using LEDs or UVB bulbs? LEDs only provide visible light. You may want to consider upgrading their tank as a 10 gallon is a little cramped for two adult toads. I'd recommend a 20 gallon long tank they're easier to fine, but a 15 gallon tank is the minimum for two.

    I hate to have to tell you this, but MBD isn't reversible unless it's very minor. You can only slightly lessen it and keep it from getting worse. Trust me, I know you're likely very upset with yourself as I was when a pet bullfrog I had got MBD. Don't be; things happen. It may not be MBD. Excessive calcium can have very similar symptoms, although you'd have to see a vet to be sure.

    It may help to post some pictures so we can see exactly what you've mentioned.
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  4. #3

    Default Re: Best treatment plans for MBD in California/Western Toads

    Quote Originally Posted by Animallover3541 View Post
    If you're using Calcium plus D3, then you don't need UVB. UV is what enables reptiles and amphibians to produce D3, which is the vitamin they use to absorb the calcium. Have you regularly been giving them the Calcium supplement in their food? Have you been giving them vitamins? Make sure you're gut loading their feeders too with nutritious food. Try dubia roaches, as they're a very nutritious feeder. They're fairly easy to breed, too-just make sure they're legal in the state you live in.

    In regard to the lighting, are you using LEDs or UVB bulbs? LEDs only provide visible light. You may want to consider upgrading their tank as a 10 gallon is a little cramped for two adult toads. I'd recommend a 20 gallon long tank they're easier to fine, but a 15 gallon tank is the minimum for two.

    I hate to have to tell you this, but MBD isn't reversible unless it's very minor. You can only slightly lessen it and keep it from getting worse. Trust me, I know you're likely very upset with yourself as I was when a pet bullfrog I had got MBD. Don't be; things happen. It may not be MBD. Excessive calcium can have very similar symptoms, although you'd have to see a vet to be sure.

    It may help to post some pictures so we can see exactly what you've mentioned.
    Hi Olivia. Thanks so much for getting back to me.

    I answered most of your questions in the original post, and some of the responses seem to contradict other things we've read...

    - Most of what we've read suggests that UV light is still recommended, esp. for toads with MBD. Many say the dusting is not usually enough. I provided links to the exact lights we are using. The LED light we use does have UVA and UVB, please check it out.
    - The toads are not very mobile, as noted in the original post, so 10 gallons actually seems like overkill, to be honest. And these are California toads, so they are not very big, only about 2 inches long for nearly adult.
    - We are not raising our food. Per original post, we're using mealworms, but those are from the pet store. Our sons would not be able to handle raising the food in addition to raising the toads, so we cant do "loading" of the food, only loading of the toads. Roaches would be far too big for these little toads, and we've heard crickets aren't as nutritious as mealworms (and have a lower calcium ratio), is that true?

    Questions still remain:
    2). There is almost no information on proper use of UV lights. How much UV? for how long? for how many days? How do we know how much is too much/too little?? Any good LED lights to recommend? We keep the LED light on for 15 to 45 minutes at a time, 1-2x per day). It's fairly low UV power at a distance of ~12 inches, stronger at ~6-10 inches.
    4). Has anyone tried or tested stirring some of the calcium powder in the water? Would that work/be absorbed?

    After additional research, seems like the lights should be on much longer, like all day during daylight hours?

    Thank you!

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    100+ Post Member Animallover3541's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best treatment plans for MBD in Western Toads

    If you want to continue using UVB, I'd recommend using a calcium supplement without D3 as too much will cause calcium overdosing. Excess calcium is just as bad as too little. Make sure you're supplementing with vitamins too. UV bulbs should be on about 8-10 hours a day, although it can vary greatly between species. UVB isn't usually used for toads and frogs as many species spend most of their day hiding or perching in places which are shaded from the light. Replace the UVB roughly every six months if you decide to continue using it. I'd recommend a ReptiSun brand bulb like this when whenever you replace it next: https://www.amazon.com/Zoo-Med-25156.../dp/B00A8RI8TK

    Neither crickets nor mealworms naturally have a lot of nutrition, which is why we supplement our herps with calcium and vitamins in the first place. Roach nymphs are actually very small. I've fed young roaches to American toads before with no issues. The rule of thumb is to feed frogs a food item which is about the same length as the distance between their eyes. They are hard to find in most pet stores so I recommend ordering them online. You can get them shipped directly to you door by various websites, even Amazon if you really want to (although this is generally more expensive). By gut loading, I don't necessarily mean you have to raise them from the start. Just make sure you give them food coated in calcium and vitamins the day before feeding, so they contain a lot of nutrition.

    Even though you don't see the toads move much, that doesn't mean they don't want to every once in awhile. As long as they are both males (males are smaller than females, ranging about 2-3 inches in California toads, which are a subspecies of western toads) they could likely be maintained in a smaller tank. Just make sure you give them lots of room to burrow as they will utilize as much bedding as you give them. Every once in a while, my toad Herbert will bury himself in the most random spot and I'll be stuck looking for him for 10 minutes just in order to feed him, lol.
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    Default Re: Best treatment plans for MBD in Western Toads

    Olivia... that is some great info! This is my second time trying to enter the following info... somehow lost everything I just previously typed, so here I go again but will get to the point. I have 3 American Toads in a 12x12x30" tank and have been using an LED desk lamp because it doesn't throw heat. However, because of my concern over the MBD issue, I have decided to use a 12" UVB light, which will not cover the entire length of the tank but will provide them with some exposure of UVB. So basically, if the toads are wanting some light/heat... they'll gravitate towards it. Just try to remember that all creatures know how to take care of themselves. For instance... they will avoid certain insects because they know they are toxic. Each animal is born with natural instincts and know what is good or not good for them. It is only when people hold them in captivity and take control of their environment, food sources, etc... where they begin to develop problems. Toads generally do not require UVB but they do have exposure from what little natural sunlight they allow themselves to receive. Toads in captivity, obviously have less exposure so we need to provide it to them but NOT to overdo it. I will say that I am not an expert, but I am still learning, and there are a lot of people in this forum that are more experienced and thank God they share it! Learned a lot here! So, I will share some of my tips and perhaps someone will either confirm or correct me?

    1. Enclosure - Give them a larger enclosure, whether you think they need it or not. Trust me.... They do roam, especially at night! Make sure to provide enough substrate that they can bury themselves because they will during the day and for long periods, during hibernation season. Make sure substrate is damp but not soggy, as toads tend to like it on the drier side. Some areas of my enclosure are damper and some drier.... having a larger enclosure with varying degrees of moisture gives them the opportunity to choose where they feel most comfortable.
    2. Feeder insects/worms - Crickets, mealies & waxworms are fine but should not be considered their only staples of food. Usually when you buy crickets from a pet store, they are severely dehydrated & malnourished by the time you get them home. I recommend buying a large enough plastic container that they can be housed in, but can't jump out of. Place inside a few pieces of paper egg cartons and/or toilet paper rolls for hiding. Feed your crickets veggie scraps, especially carrots (shavings) as they are high in vitamin A, which is much needed by toads. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to a problem in which a toad's tongue loses the ability to grab onto it's prey, leading to a host of health problems. I feed my crickets baby food carrots, which they scramble to once I release them from their boxes. Just remember that whatever you are feeding your feeder insects... you are also feeding to your toads! A malnourished cricket is not going to provide nourishment for your toads! I also recommend a supplemented food for your crickets.... I use Zoo Med Natural Cricket Care, which they love. Provide them with water (water gel or crystals work well)! Mealies are also fine but be careful not to feed too many, as the chitlin (hard body shell) can cause impaction if too much is consumed. Waxworms are also fine but are fatty, so limit them. Rmember variety is the spice of life! Dust your feeders with supplemental powder and keep the Vitamin D in consideration. I am also going to recommend that you use Roly Polys, or Pill bugs, as another staple because they are highly nutritious! Rolys are very easy to maintain and breed and I think your kids would enjoy raising them. Keep some in your toad's enclosure to help keep it clean and serve as a meal at the same time! There are several good threads regarding Isopods or Roly Polys on this forum, so I would suggest to read them but the basics are easy! Requirements... plastic container, layer of substrate kept damp, feed decaying wood & leaves, veggies ie... carrots, potatoes, squash... pretty much any leftover scraps from your own meal preparations! Just make sure whatever you are feeding your Rolys, and other insects, are free of pesticides and other chemicals! If you are successful in maintaining your Rolys, you will begin to see babies in about 30-60 days, depending on the species!
    3. Water dish should be deep enough for the toads to soak in but not too deep that they are fully submerged, or they will drown if they cannot get out! Tip for adding some additional supplements/vitamins. Add some liquid vitamins to their water during each water change. My dish holds 2 cups of water, so I add 1 drop for each cup of water, 2 cups = 2 drops and I use Ecotrition Vita-Sol. Can be purchased at a pet store or Amazon and a 1-2oz bottle is gonna last a long time!

    So, in summary.... Try to provide the most natural environment for your toads! Replicate how their living conditions are in the wild!

    1. Give your toads lots of room to roam around.
    2. Provide an adequate amount of quality substrate. Provide damp & drier areas!
    3. Take care of your feeder insects/worms and supplement their food, as the healthier and more nourished they are... the more beneficial & nutritious they will be for your toads. Remember to offer a variety!
    4. Lighting - UVB is not required but can be beneficial in small amounts if your toads are not receiving natural sunlight or if you feel are not getting enough vitamins/supplements. Set a timer for your light to be on for 10-12 hours per day. Allow one end of your enclosure to be a little darker and/or provide shelter or hiding areas where your toads can choose to be in the dark.
    5. Provide a water dish so they can soak, add liquid vitamins, use non-chlorinated/chemical free water & and change at least every other day!
    6. Think about adding some Isopods aka... Roly Polys to help keep the enclosure clean & as food!

    Hope this helps! I may be back later to edit as I am in a rush and could be leaving some additional info out! Have a great day!

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  8. #6
    100+ Post Member Animallover3541's Avatar
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    Default Re: Best treatment plans for MBD in Western Toads

    I mostly agree with you Cathy. The only thing is to remember to only give a reptile/amphibian a supplement containing D3 if they are NOT exposed to UVB, as UVB is what the animals use to synthesize Vitamin D3. Adding excess D3 in their diet causes them to absorb more calcium than needed, leading to similar symptoms as MBD. Also, don't dust with vitamins as often as you dust with calcium. Vitamin A deficiency is definitely one of the more common nutritional issues behind MBD, and possibly a bad Calcium to Phosphorus ratio.

    What all of us keepers need to remember is that a healthy will be the end result only if we dust AND gut load. Another tip for the cricket food, is if you use one which is really dry or powdery is the mix it with a soft food like bananas. My crickets, roaches, and other feeders go right through it when I do that! Some people find it kind of gross though. You can always just sprinkle it over their normal food so the feeders are guaranteed to eat some of it. I used the Fluker's cricket food for all feeders that don't require a loose substrate. As long as your feeders are gut loaded before feedings all is good. Roaches were just a suggestion
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    Default Re: Best treatment plans for MBD in Western Toads

    Quote Originally Posted by Animallover3541 View Post
    I mostly agree with you Cathy. The only thing is to remember to only give a reptile/amphibian a supplement containing D3 if they are NOT exposed to UVB, as UVB is what the animals use to synthesize Vitamin D3. Adding excess D3 in their diet causes them to absorb more calcium than needed, leading to similar symptoms as MBD. Also, don't dust with vitamins as often as you dust with calcium. Vitamin A deficiency is definitely one of the more common nutritional issues behind MBD, and possibly a bad Calcium to Phosphorus ratio.

    What all of us keepers need to remember is that a healthy will be the end result only if we dust AND gut load. Another tip for the cricket food, is if you use one which is really dry or powdery is the mix it with a soft food like bananas. My crickets, roaches, and other feeders go right through it when I do that! Some people find it kind of gross though. You can always just sprinkle it over their normal food so the feeders are guaranteed to eat some of it. I used the Fluker's cricket food for all feeders that don't require a loose substrate. As long as your feeders are gut loaded before feedings all is good. Roaches were just a suggestion

    Hi Olivia! YES.... I forgot to mention about using supplemental powder either with D3 or w/out D3! Actually, I did have it when I was entering all the info in my first attempt but for some reason I lost all that info and had to type it up all over again! FRUSTRATING!! Then I forgot to mention it when re-typing... there were a couple other tips/things I had in the original that didn't make it in the 2nd draft and I had an appointment to get to so they just got cut out AND now I don't remember exactly what they were! It's been one of those days... LOL! Anyway... I am currently using Reptivite w/out D3 but will soon begin using with D3 because I just got a new bottle that has it, so a UVB light may not even be necessary. However, the light that I ordered is a Zoo Med Reptisun 5.0 UVB Compact to fit a 12" long hood. My tank is 30" long, so the light won't shine/flood from one end to the other, but still provide some UVB towards the end of the tank where their water dish is. That should help warm up the water and they'll get a dose of UVB while soaking. Even though I am switching to a supplement w/D3, I only dust their crickets and half of the time it gets washed away because the crickets jump into the water dish and the powder gets rinsed off so I've been concerned that my toads haven't been getting the supplementation that they need. That's why I add the Vita-sol drops to the water and gutload the crickets and rolys. I like your idea about mixing the dry powder supplement, used for my crickets, with bananas! I think I will mix some into the baby food carrots since that's a puree and my crickets flock to it, so adding the powder to it will surely give them a boost! I do have Red Runner roaches but most of them are too big to feed my toads, so I have been just using the nymphs. From what I have researched... Rolys are high in calcium and other nutrients, which make them great feeders, as well as the roaches. I know crickets, mealies & waxworms are the easiest to buy but toads need a larger variety. That's why I say... try to make their enclosure & what you feed them as close to what they would find out in the wild, which makes variety an important key. I've been studying toads in the wild for over a decade but yet... keeping them in captivity isn't as simple as one might think. After watching my gardens being devoured by insects and noticing that the toads had become scarce this past summer, I decided to collect some late summer season babies to overwinter and release back into my gardens this upcoming Spring! In making that decision, I had to do some research... a lot of research, not only regarding toads but all their feeders. It's been an overwhelming chore... but a great pleasure! I started with 9 but released some that had grown to a decent size before winter, leaving me with four, however I just recently lost one to an impaction! Still has me bummed! I'm like a mother hen, checking on my toads several times a day and then tending to their feeders. It's been very interesting, yet time consuming, and I am looking forward to repeating this process year after year. I won't collect toadlets from Spring but the ones that are late season, and probably wouldn't survive the winter, are the ones I'll overwinter and release the following year. I hoping to increase the numbers in my yard and surrounding areas. I'm against using pesticides and there's no better bug control than a hungry toad! I had a resident female for 8 years but I haven't seen her in the last 2 years! The only adult resident I have is a male and he needs some company! I have a nephew who lives just a few miles away and he has a pond where they spawn in the thousands, so I'm fortunate that I can collect them from there. My family thinks I'm crazy but it's something that I enjoy and in turn, I'm helping nature... all around! And still the learning continues....

  10. #8

    Default Re: Best treatment plans for MBD in Western Toads

    Quote Originally Posted by Animallover3541 View Post
    If you want to continue using UVB, I'd recommend using a calcium supplement without D3 as too much will cause calcium overdosing. Excess calcium is just as bad as too little. Make sure you're supplementing with vitamins too. UV bulbs should be on about 8-10 hours a day, although it can vary greatly between species. UVB isn't usually used for toads and frogs as many species spend most of their day hiding or perching in places which are shaded from the light. Replace the UVB roughly every six months if you decide to continue using it. I'd recommend a ReptiSun brand bulb like this when whenever you replace it next: https://www.amazon.com/Zoo-Med-25156.../dp/B00A8RI8TK

    Neither crickets nor mealworms naturally have a lot of nutrition, which is why we supplement our herps with calcium and vitamins in the first place. Roach nymphs are actually very small. I've fed young roaches to American toads before with no issues. The rule of thumb is to feed frogs a food item which is about the same length as the distance between their eyes. They are hard to find in most pet stores so I recommend ordering them online. You can get them shipped directly to you door by various websites, even Amazon if you really want to (although this is generally more expensive). By gut loading, I don't necessarily mean you have to raise them from the start. Just make sure you give them food coated in calcium and vitamins the day before feeding, so they contain a lot of nutrition.

    Even though you don't see the toads move much, that doesn't mean they don't want to every once in awhile. As long as they are both males (males are smaller than females, ranging about 2-3 inches in California toads, which are a subspecies of western toads) they could likely be maintained in a smaller tank. Just make sure you give them lots of room to burrow as they will utilize as much bedding as you give them. Every once in a while, my toad Herbert will bury himself in the most random spot and I'll be stuck looking for him for 10 minutes just in order to feed him, lol.
    Thanks again!

    1). How do you know if the toads are getting too much or too little calcium until it is too late? Seems like a total guessing game.
    2). What vitamin powder do you recommend?
    3). So do Roaches provide better nutrition than mealworms? Any data on that? Also, if food must be gut loaded, I don't know how toads survive in the wild then. The toads where we found these tadpoles were running around out in the sun, so seems like they got plenty of sun.

    They do move around the tank a bit and the male burrows a bit, the female is less mobile and doesn't burrow very deep. But again, really do think our tank is good size for them. They sometimes like huddling with each other and the female would have a hard time moving across the tank to get to the male if it were a lot larger.

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    Default Re: Best treatment plans for MBD in Western Toads

    Hello,
    I work with American toads and Gray tree frogs and I am also working on researching them on my way to becoming a herpetologist but I'm not an expert yet.

    I'll try and explain a little bit more on some of your questions and some of the information. I'm going to try to give main points so I don't write a short story.

    Lighting:
    I supply my toads with LED and UVB. Reptisun 5.0 I would recommend the tube fixture with an Amazon plug for the timer. So you never have to turn it on or off. Set it according to the season. 10-12 spring and summer, and 8-10 hours fall and winter. Same for LED. I use MicMol for LED.
    Use a plexiglass piece and drill holes in the plexiglass so the uvb can pass through and reach the toad.

    Enclosure size:
    2 toads need at least a 40 gallon. I have a pair of toads who have been together for 4 years now in and out of quarantine, and they went from a 125 gallon to a 20 gallon quarantine tank. They had to be separated because they were starting to stress each other out. So a 40 gallon is good to keep them happy at least from the opinion of a biologist I work with and my personal opinion.

    Supplements:
    Contrary to what has been stated, use the UVB and offer D3. Not much light will hit the toad and not all the powder will be taken by the toad so it's the best way to assure the toad will get D3. I use these supplements I feed to Banded Crickets, Mealworms, Dubia Roaches, and others.

    Mazuri Better Bug Gutload
    Reptocal by Tetrafauna
    Repashy Crested Gecko Diet
    Repashy Superpig
    Repashy Calcium A
    Yummy Chummies Dog treats (salmon)

    The "water"
    Fluker's Cricket Quencher

    I blend all the supplements together in a cup to let the crickets and mealworms eat it. I had a toad go from 46 grams to 118 grams in a few months with this supplementation and gutload.

    Feeders:
    I use Banded Crickets as my main feeder because they live longer, are less aggressive, and don't smell. Think of you eating dinner. You have the main course like chicken or steak. Then you have the side like fries or mashed potatoes. Think this way when you offer food to your toads.

    Main feeders can be fed long periods of time and can sustain the animal being the main source of nutrition. You can feed multiple main feeders and a few side feeders for best results. Think of it like you are the animal. You probably do not want to eat potato chips every night or steak. You would want to mix it up.

    Main Feeders:
    Banded Crickets
    Domestic (Pet store) Crickets
    Dubia Roaches
    Red Runner Roaches
    Orangehead Roaches
    Hornworms
    Silkworms
    Reptiworms, Calciworms (Same insect different name)
    Earwigs
    Isopods
    Captive House Flies
    Earthworms but from a trusted source

    Note* do not feed earthworms as frequently because many places have unhealthy worms. My toads have gotten parasites from consuming earthworms.

    Side feeders:
    Waxworms and Waxmoths
    Mealworms
    Isopods
    Butterworms
    Black soldier flies

    You can offer as many or as little as you want in order to create variety.

    Your temperature and humidity seem good but if you upgrade the tank size, use the supplements and feeders recommended then you should be in good shape. Please let me know if I missed something. Thanks!

    Sent from my BKL-L04 using Tapatalk

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