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American Toad Care

American Toad Care

Pet care involves grooming, the right food and nutrition, providing shelter and good living conditions. What if your pet is an American toad? Forget about grooming and focus instead on what and how to feed and what is the best place for your toad to live healthily and happily. To learn how to correctly look after an American toad, scroll below.
PetPonder Staff
Last Updated: Mar 10, 2018
One man's junk is another man's treasure. Similarly, a toad can be considered an icky, slimy, warty thing by some (mostly ladies) and can be a wonderfully unique and different pet to others. The American toad (Bufo americanus) is one ideal pet toad species. It has a distinctly toady appearance with warts, blotches and bumps behind the eyes. These toads can be a light red or rusty reddish-brown in color or a deep, dark green. They are found in most parts of America, some parts of Mexico and Canada. Depending on your location, your American toad could be the Eastern species, which is 5-9 cm in size or the Dwarf variety, which is 6 cm in size. These toads are the most appealing toad species to own and make perfect amphibious pets for first-time owners. But all pets need to be taken care of properly and toads are no exception.

How to Take Care of an American Toad

The following points make up the different areas of American toad care:

Toad Sweet Home
  • Your toad needs a nice, secure and contained living area, as close to its natural habitat as possible. Toads are amphibious in nature, so you need to provide water+hiding places+soft soil.
  • For your terrarium, buy a 10-20 gallon aquarium. A 10 gallon terrarium is big enough for 1 toad, for 2 or more, opt for a larger sized aquarium. The tank's length should be greater than its height.
  • Do not be fooled by the American toad's lazy demeanor. It is perfectly capable of climbing out or hopping out of a not-too-deep aquarium. To prevent toad escapes, get a firm, secure tank lid.
  • Use a mesh screen lid or a lid with ventilation holes. Do not use a cardboard piece as a lid. Do not leave the tank uncovered ever.
  • Toads like to dig around and bury themselves in the soil. So your terrarium needs a substrate, or soft soil, for your toad to burrow in. Use coconut husk fiber, mulch, leaf litter or forest bark bedding. Buy a substrate from your local pet store, make sure it is natural and does not contain vermiculite or perlite. Do not use sand, gravel, fertilized soil or fir bark as substrates.
  • Layer the substrate in the tank. The substrate should be at least 4 inches deep in the tank, so the toad can completely bury itself. Water the substrate to keep it moist and diggable. Make sure the substrate never hardens or dries out.
  • All toads like to hide and lurk in dark corners and hidey holes. So accessorize your terrarium with small and medium-sized rocks, hollow logs and twigs, flower pots, coconut shells, basically anything your toad can hide under and provides shade and darkness. Wedge pieces of wood in the tank to allow for niches and corners.
  • You can put a layer of dried leaves or arrange some live or artificial plants in the terrarium, to provide more cover for your pet. With live plants, make sure the plants are not poisonous to the toad and have not been sprayed with pesticide or fertilizers.
  • Do not house two different toad species or a frog and toad together. Some toads can be carnivorous and before long, you may be missing an amphibian.
The Watering Hole
  • Your pet toad needs water to drink and to wade in. But the water bowl shouldn't be too shallow, such that the toad cannot wade, nor too deep or it might drown. It should be able to climb out of the bowl. You may need to fix a little ramp or place rocks in the bowl.
  • Use a plastic container or a bowl, that is as deep as the toad's height and quite longer and wider than the toad's width and length. Dig in the tank's substrate and bury the container, such that only the top is visible. This simulates the look and feel of a pond to the toad.
  • Toads are very sensitive to chemicals. So use fresh de-chlorinated water, preferably rainwater or bottled spring water, as pure and chemical-free as possible in the water bowl.
  • When the water bowl gets dirty, empty the water and clean it immediately. You should change the water in the bowl every 2 days.
Humidity and Temperature
  • American toads like it cool and dark. So try to maintain a tank temperature between 65-75°F. If your toad comes from warmer climates, then make the terrarium slightly warmer by touching 80°F.
  • Try to arrange your terrarium, such that one side is warm and the other side is cool and watered down.
  • American toads are nocturnal and are very active at night. So they prefer a dark and low-light atmosphere, so try to place your terrarium in a less-lit part of the room.
  • If you want to watch what your toad gets up to at night, then use a red lamp to shine light into the aquarium. American toads cannot make out red light, so they still think it's nighttime.
  • Use de-chlorinated water in a spray bottle, to spray the inside of the terrarium, once a day to keep it cool. Spray the substrate to make it moist, not wet. This misting is useful for the toad too.
Toady Food
  • The rule with toad cuisine is this: members of the insect family, that can fit in a toad's mouth. And only live food. American toads like their dinners and lunches moving and wriggling. So with worms, you need to dangle the worm in front of the toad, so it thinks it's moving.
  • American toads use their long sticky tongues to catch food. But they are slow and can only catch food that is within tongue's reach. So feeding them fast or flying insects should be avoided.
  • Crawling food items include earthworms, meal worms, wax worms, spiders, beetles and ants. You can purchase such insect food at a pet store or catch them on your own.
  • Crickets are a toad food classic. All other insects are meant as treats. But you should provide a balanced insect diet, so crickets are the main course and other insects, side-dishes.
  • To ensure a healthy and pudgy toad, on an average, your toad should eat 3-6 food items every day. Dust crickets and worms with calcium supplement powder from a pet store, to ensure a nutritional diet. This should be done at the 2nd or 4th feeding.
  • Do not leave dead insects and bodies in the tank. Avoid toxic insects like caterpillars and do not feed American toads, live mice or fish. Flies and moths can be fed to your toad once in a while. Do not feed the toad any human food.
Avoid picking up and handling your toad repeatedly. Touching their skin or feces will not poison you or give you warts (remember to wash your hands afterwards). But toads do not like to be touched and get scared of human contact. If you are handling your pet, do not catch it at a height, as it may try to jump off. An important part of American toad care, in fact any pet's care, is love. Just because your pet is a toad and not very physical, that does not mean you shouldn't talk to it or praise it or leave it alone. Do not let others hurt or abuse it.
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