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Thread: Southern toad acting ill, wobbly, pointing head down

  1. #1

    Unhappy Southern toad acting ill, wobbly, pointing head down

    Hello again FrogForum... today I've found my 2 year old female southern toad (Anaxyrus terrestris) behaving strangely, as if she is ill. Yesterday she seemed just fine. She drank all of her water in her water bowl and was sitting in it patiently waiting for more so I filled it up with tap water and put in some Reptisafe water conditioner as I usually do. Sometimes I use bottled water instead but we ran out a few days ago. A few hours later our city declared a boil water advisory for a water main break, warning us that the water could be contaminated.

    Fast forward to now and it's my toad's feeding day. She looks thinner than usual but doesn't want to eat any worms. She is acting like she forgot how to walk, very wobbly when she hops, legs flailing, very tipsy-like. When she's sitting still she ducks her head down between her legs and points towards the ground. When I pick her up her skin feels extremely soft to the touch. She flipped herself over once and now I'm afraid to take her out of my sights in case she gets stuck. I'm really worried about her. Is it possible the water was dirty and she is "poisoned"? What should I do?

    For now I'm boiling some water and letting her soak in it for awhile once it cools off to about 80 degrees, and putting her back in her terrarium and dumping out the water when she gets uncomfortable (repeating the process every few hours). When she's soaking her posture and weight seem much more normal than when she's in her dirt. I'm hoping maybe she can expel whatever was in the water out and go back to acting normally. Aside from this I am at a loss as to what to do. If she doesn't want to eat within the next few days I'm worried she might starve. Any help is appreciated.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Southern toad acting ill, wobbly, pointing head down

    So sorry to hear about your girl! First... I'm a bit confused that you said she "drank" all her water, because toads do not drink. They absorb water through their skin and it would be hard to determine what was absorbed, since your city declared a water boil advisory and you do not know specifically what the contamination is. Regardless, I am reluctant to believe that the water has anything to do with her condition, especially if you boiled it as directed.... unless there is something really toxic in it??? It may just be coincidental??? What has me worried is that I had an American Toad display the exact same symptoms that you are describing, a few months ago and he did not survive! I had performed a dissection/autopsy, which revealed that he had an impaction, which I was not able to detect upon physical examination. At that time, I was not aware of using warm/tepid honey water to aid in loosening up impactions. I am curious if your girl could possibly have an impaction? Are you aware of or have you ever used honey water? It will help keep her hydrated, may loosen impaction and possibly help her expel any nasty substances that she may have absorbed from the water. It definitely will not hurt her and is worth a shot. Depending on where the impaction is... if it is pressing on the spinal cord, it will cause the splaying of the hind legs. It is unclear to me why/how it causes the downward ducking of her nose, but my boy did the same thing and I thought it was very odd behavior. Also wondering... have you been using UVB lighting and/or powdered supplements and what do you normally feed her and how often? Really hoping she improves for you!
    ~Cathy

    I have learned... still learning... ALWAYS LEARNING!
    Every moment is a teachable moment!
    Mistakes are not always a terrible thing, especially when you learn from them!

  4. #3

    Default Re: Southern toad acting ill, wobbly, pointing head down

    Thanks for the reply. By drinking water I do mean absorbing water, it was just my loving way of referring to it. She mostly ate mealworms (her preference) but she did decide to eat some crickets and nightcrawlers from time to time. She was on Reptivite with D3 and ReptoCal with the Reptivite being used once every two weeks and the ReptoCal once on the week Reptivite wasn't used. Unfortunately my toad passed away a few hours after making that post. It took me a long time to find the strength to write this follow-up.

    I had read on this forum about symptoms of impaction and constipation before she passed and she shared many of those symptoms, including the ones your American toad had. Once I read that, I rushed to the store to buy some honey and Pedialyte to give her a honey soak (didn't get a chance to use the Pedialyte). About an hour after letting her soak for 10 minutes in the honey solution she passed away. She splayed all of her limbs and convulsed right before she passed... It was very heartbreaking to watch. To be honest I'm not sure when the last time she passed stool was. Whenever she would go I'd clean it out and forget about it. I should have been keeping track . She could have very well been impacted and I had not noticed. She didn't have any lumps in her at all from where I could touch.

    I'm so sorry Fred

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    Default Re: Southern toad acting ill, wobbly, pointing head down

    I am soooo sorry to hear that she didn't make it! And it sounds like it was a horrific and heartbreaking thing to watch that happen! I believe impactions can be very difficult to diagnose because they are not always easily felt when palpated for, as I said... I couldn't feel anything with my toad. Unfortunately, by the time they start splaying the legs and their skin becomes clammy... I think it's too late, unless you are able to rush them to an exotic vet and assuming the vet is able to do anything! I was also a wreck after losing Chanchu and then a couple weeks later it had happened to another toad, Gama... but it helped me to make the decision on providing their meals from a feeding dish, which reduced the likelihood that my remaining toads would accidentally ingest substrate material. I have two toads remaining, a male (Speckles) and a female (Shima) and both have adapted quite nicely to feeding from the dish, mostly mealworms, waxworms and roaches (which cannot crawl out). The crickets, however, are not easily kept in a dish and roam around the enclosure which the toads get some exercise hunting them and crickets don't really latch onto the substrate, so they are low risk.

    Again... I am very sorry you lost your girl! It's obvious you loved her dearly! I was really hoping that she'd pull through for you and this news saddens me! Much love your way!
    ~Cathy

    I have learned... still learning... ALWAYS LEARNING!
    Every moment is a teachable moment!
    Mistakes are not always a terrible thing, especially when you learn from them!

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