Caring for Your New American Toad
The inside scoop on Bufo americanus 

 
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Toad Factoids

Origin

USA

Size

Females 3”, male 2”

Life Span

Probably 10 years

Sexing

Males chirp and “sing.”

Temp

Room temperature fine

Water

Needs fresh water daily

Attitude

Very tamable.

Eyes

Roll when swallowing

No Toe Pads

Cannot climb walls

Substrate

Light colored gravels 

Security

Likes a hiding place

Foods

Insects and worms

Supplements

Occasional 

Lighting

Immaterial

Breeding 

Spring

Breeding Age

Last year’s hatch

Spawn Size

Too many to count

Incubation 

A few days

Tadpole Threat

Overcrowding

Tadpole Food

Fine fish food

Metamorphosis

Three to four weeks

Toadlet Threat

Birds 


LA  
Cute, eh?  Your average American toad.

Origins:  Toads of various species occur throughout the U.S.  Few are reared in captivity.  Most are captured from the wild.  They are easily captured at night with a flashlight.

LA
Marine toads used to be common.  These guys get big, really big.

Size:  Most toad species stay small -- two to three inches.  The Marine Toads grow quite large and eat mice.  Good old USA toads pose no threat to mammals.

LA

Foods:  Toads love live insects and worms.  They catch them with the aid of their sticky tongue.  They quickly learn to eat pieces of food from the end of a hand-held broom straw.  They roll their eyes as they swallow their food.  Toads eat surprisingly large quantities.  Some will learn to eat goldfish from your fingers.  Toads eat anything swallowable but cannot run down fast-moving prey.  Worms move at the right speed.

Supplements:  Toads grow slowly enough that an occasional (weekly) calcium/vitamin D3 dusting of their crickets suffices.

Lighting:  Toads prefer to come out at night.  They quickly adapt to your feeding schedule.  You'll notice they spend a great deal of time sitting and thinking.  They do not need full-spectrum lighting.  Make sure it is not too bright.

Heat:  Room temperature suffices.  Toads need no extra heat.
 

Joe Carrieri, Long Island, NY, August 10, 2007
I noticed some gaps in the info on your USA Toad page. For temperature it should be about 75-80 degrees on the warm side of the cage, and about 70 on the cool side.  USA Toads prefer higher temperatures than most other amphibians.  Toads housed at lower temps tend to have digestive problems.
For substrates moist cypress mulch or damp coconut fiber is best, I've heard of toads accidentally eating gravel or sand substrates and becoming impacted from it.
 
A:  I'll add your info to my page, but I'll have to say that our Iowa toads have adjusted to lows and highs way beyond their optimum temps.  LA

 

Water:  Their warty skin protects them from drying out as frogs would.  Their "warts" secrete nasty stuff which discourages most predators -- except hog-nosed snakes.  Toads need only a small water bowl.  They plonk down in the middle of it and relieve themselves.  Change it daily.  They need large quantities of water only at breeding time.  You will not believe how many eggs the females lay.

Mixers:  Toads try to eat anything smaller that moves.  Mix them with critters of equal or larger size.  They prefer to eat rather than fight.

LA
Southern toad.  Very similar to an Iowa toad.  He chirps with a southern accent.

Hoppers:  Often called Hoptoads, Toads are not jumpers – especially when compared to frogs.  Their leaps are measured in inches rather than feet.  Still, they can escape from uncovered containers.

LA  
Every pond needs a hoptoad to protect it.

Swimmers:  Toads prefer to stay out of deep water except at breeding time.  However, they swim rather well when in the water.

LA  
Fresh caught.  Puffed up like a toad -- just before squirting.

Tameable:  When you first pick up a toad, it will often squirt urine on you – a great deal of urine for such a little varmint (you can call them little squirts).  This non-tasty extra sauce plus their nasty skin toxins make most predators drop them like a hot rock.  Dogs often foam at the mouth after picking up a toad.  Determined dogs will still "chase" them.  Toads get used to you very quickly – usually the same week you get them.  They start “begging” for food fast.

LA
When you find toad tadpoles, you find hundreds.

 

LA
American toads in amplexus.

LA
They clocked in 3.25 hours before I went to lunch.  Still at it 9 am the next day.

LA
Third day, still at it.

LA
Still at it even after being moved to a new toad habitat (for the eggs).

Breeding:   Male toads “sing” to attract females.  If your toad sings, he's a male.  If you poke him in the ribs like another toad grabbing him from behind, males chirp.  Translation, "I'm a male.  Get your warty hands off me, Bubba."  Females lay huge quantities of eggs -- tens of thousands – so many you need to keep changing the water daily or they will die.  

LA
Compare the black toad (not the bullhead) already morphing to a bullfrog tadpole.

Tadpoles.  The black tadpoles convert to toadlets within a month.  In the wild, blackbirds “harvest” bite-size toads in huge quantities.  To feed them you need wingless fruit flies or pin-head size crickets.  In the wild they probably eat mosquitoes.  They're darn hard to feed in captivity.

LA
Herd of one-inch hop-size southern toads with escape on their minds.

In Summary:   Many species of toads will match up with these care standards.  Even those from other countries.  Toads make great easy-to-care-for pets.  LA.

More info on Toad Tadpoles

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