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American Toad

American Toad

Also known as Hudson Bay Toad, Dwarf American Toad, and Eastern American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)

Keeping an American Toad as your pet can be a rewarding experience and they’re great for beginners. Their enclosure doesn’t require a huge investment, they’re not picky eaters, and they’re widely available in the United States.

This care sheet covers a list of the items you’ll need to keep American Toads as pets. Not only that, I’ll show you how to set up their cage, what to feed them, and I’ll give you some information regarding toad husbandry.

In the Wild

American toads inhabit regions in South America, the United States, and Canada. The Genus Anaxyrus contains three subspecies; the Eastern American toad, Dwarf American toad, and Hudson Bay toad. All of which are ‘true toads’, belonging to the Bufonidae Family.

Their colors range between gray, brown, black, and yellow. Some are more solid in color but most are speckled.

American Toad Cage Setup

Setting up an enclosure for an American Toad is about as easy as it gets. Probably the most important part of the entire setup is getting the correct substrate and making it deep enough. I have some suggestions to help you get started but for now, here is a list of the items you’ll need.

  • 10-gallon tank minimum*
  • Non-particulate substrate
  • Leaf litter (optional)
  • Small water dish
  • Decorations for hiding
  • Screen lid
  • Thermometer hygrometer
  • Spray bottle

Toads don’t require a lot of space but the more the better. Most frog enthusiasts follow a simple rule; 10 gallons per frog. This holds true for the American Toad. A 10-gallon aquarium will house one toad. A 30-gallon aquarium will hold 3 or 4. However, if you want to use a 50-gallon aquarium for a single toad, that’s fine too! There is no limit to the size. Oh, last but not least, make sure your enclosure is fitted with a screen lid to keep the toad from escaping.


Fill the bottom of the tank with a non-particulate substrate, at least 2 inches deep. These toads love to burrow, so a loose substrate like coconut fiber is recommended. Read the substrate section below for more information on this topic.

You can add leaf litter on top of the substrate to create extra hiding placing. Place cork bark, branches, logs, or other decorations suitable for hiding. Add a sturdy, shallow water dish at one end of their enclosure and fill it with clean water. Live or fake plants are welcome. Just remember, these toads love to burrow so they might damage the roots of your live plants.

Terrestrial Frog Terrarium Setup
I recently made a guide on how to set up a terrestrial frog enclosure, which is perfect for an American Toad. Click here to learn more.

Lighting

American toads are mostly nocturnal, spending their days hiding under leaves, burrowed in the soil, or otherwise relaxing in cooler temperatures. That’s not always the case, though. In fact, just the other day I found one hopping through my yard around 6:00 PM. But, in general, they’re likely to wait until nightfall to venture out for feeding. As such, UVB lighting is not a requirement.

Should you decide to place live plants inside their enclosure, a full-spectrum LED light, catered to growing plants will make a welcomed addition to your toad’s enclosure. What’s most important is your pet has a day and night cycle, especially if you’re keeping them in a room that doesn’t receive natural lighting from windows. If this is the case, then yes, please provide them with a light! I recommend between 12 – 15 hours of light each day.

Temperature

In the wild, toads are exposed to a wide range of temperatures. They prefer temperatures ranging between 60 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit. In the United States, it’s not uncommon to have 90 – 100 degree days during the summer. To survive the heat, they burrow in the ground or hide under leaf litter in cool, dark areas.

If the average room temperature in your house is around 70 degrees, you’re good to go. At night, the temperature can drop a few degrees without harming your pet. Provide places for your toad to hide during the day. Cork bark flats, leaf litter, or decorations are always helpful. Having these hiding areas will allow them to keep cool, if they choose, during the day when they’re not as active.

Substrate

American toads like to burrow. With this in mind, you should provide them a substrate suitable for burrowing. Coconut fiber substrates like eco earth are well suited for this. Other options include plantation soil, ABG mix or soil mixed with peat moss, coconut bark or amphibian friendly mulch will all work well.

The depth of the substrate depends on the size of your toad. As a minimum, fill the enclosure with at least 2 inches of substrate. A full-grown toad may prefer 3 – 4 inches of soil for proper burrowing.

In addition to the substrate, you can introduce leaf litter for hiding spots. This isn’t required, provided you have other hiding places like decorations, branches, plants, etc. Leaf litter is typically seen in tropical terrarium setups to create hiding places for smaller frogs. Not only does it help your pet feel more safe, having a nearby hiding place, but, over time, the leaves break down and add nutrients back into the substrate which helps live plants remain healthy.

American Toad

Water Quality

The American Toad is from the Bufonidae Family, also known as “True Toads”. Unlike frogs, true toads can survive a little better without water. This is why you’re more likely to find toads farther away from a water source than frogs. However, they’re still amphibians and they do require water. Toads have semi-permeable skin which allows them to absorb whatever comes into contact with them. Due to this, clean, toxin-free water is essential for their health.

Using tap water is often the quickest and easiest way to fill your toad’s water dish, but it can be dangerous. This depends on your local water supply, of course. Some tap-water contains chlorine, fluoride, chloramine, and other chemicals. All of which are harmful to amphibians. On the opposite side of things, using distilled water may seem like a better alternative because it’s 100% clean water. Unfortunately, this isn’t the answer either. You see, distilled water lacks the natural minerals these toads are used to in the wild. The best solution is to use water conditioners like ReptiSafe or, perhaps, use bottled water.

Having said that, fill a small, shallow water dish with clean, dechlorinated water. Do your best to never let them run out of the water and change it often to keep the water clean. Ensure they cannot dump or otherwise knock-over their water dish.

Humidity

Toads survive in a wide range of relative humidity levels. What’s most important is having a small water dish with clean water available at all times, which allows them to soak their skin whenever they want. As for the humidity level within the cage, try to keep it around 50% humidity. This can fluctuate 15% up or down at any given time.

To be precise, you can use a hygrometer to read the humidity level within the tank. A hygrometer is nice, but it’s not a requirement provided you always keep their water dish full and you mist their enclosure 2 – 3 times per day. Increasing the humidity is as easy as misting with a spray bottle.

American Toad Diet

In the wild, a toad’s diet usually consists of a variety of invertebrates; spiders, worms, crickets, slugs, etc. In captivity, however, it’s easiest to feed them whatever is available at the local pet store; crickets, waxworms, superworms, mealworms, etc.

Juvenile toads should be fed appropriately sized insects daily. 1/8 inch crickets or fruit flies will suffice. Adults can eat full-grown crickets and all the insects listed in the previous paragraph. Feed them 3 – 6 crickets each day. It’s always best to have a variety of foods. If their primary source of food is crickets, give them the occasional mealworm or waxworm as a treat.

All the insects you feed them should be dusted with vitamin and mineral supplements. It may be wise to consult a veterinarian for the proper amounts, if possible. Otherwise, a good starting point is to dust with a calcium supplement daily and use a vitamin and mineral supplement 2 – 3 times per week.

Reproduction

American toad husbandry can go either way in terms of success. Many keepers find they don’t require special conditions to get their pets to breed, while others have no luck. If this is your case, you might want to consider simulating their natural environment during the breeding season.

Toads Mating (Amplexus) Laying Eggs
Toad laying a string of eggs. Learn more about a frog’s clutch of eggs.

Simulate the winter months with cooler temperatures, less water, and less humidity over 2 – 4 weeks. After that, raise the temperature, add more water, and increase the humidity for a few weeks. This will mimic the transition from winter to spring. Sometimes this is all that’s required to get them to breed.

Sexing

Before we get too far into the husbandry section, it’s important to know the difference between a male and female. Juvenile toads can be difficult to distinguish but adults are a little easier. A full-grown male grows between 2.3 – 3 inches in length and a full-grown female measures between 3.5 – 4 inches in length. So females are slightly larger than males. Perhaps the easiest way single out the males is to listen for their call. Watch them in the act, if possible; males have a loud call.

Breeding

American toads typically breed in the spring, between March and May. With the rise in temperature and more abundant rainfall, these toads are ready to reproduce. In a captive environment, however, seasonal changes are not the same. If you’ve had a male and female in the same enclosure for several months already, and they’re not breeding, you will most likely have to simulate their natural environment to get them to breed.

To do this, lower the temperature in their enclosure 5 – 10 degrees and stop misting for 2 – 4 weeks. So long as they have access to water in their dish, they will be fine. Also, decrease their day-time light cycle to 10 – 12 hours per day. Maintain these condition for two to four weeks.

Next, you’ll want to simulate spring-time by increasing the temperature back to normal or slightly above. Also, change their day and night cycle to provide 14 hours of light and 8 hours of dark. Begin misting their cage again and consider adding another water dish or swap their current dish with something bigger.

With any luck, the males will begin calling around night time. Should you be successful, you’ll find your toads in the amplexus position. This is where the male grasps his arms around the female. The female then passes the eggs through her cloaca; the male then fertilized the eggs outside the body. They will remain in this position for a few hours or even days.

Tadpoles & Toadlets

At this point, you may want to consider transferring the eggs to a separate container. Use one large plastic container and fill it with 2 – 3 inches of clean, dechlorinated water. The temperature should be kept between 70 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit. After you’ve transferred the eggs, be patient and wait. They should hatch in 4 – 10 days. In the meantime, check out the this safe water guide for tadpoles.

Once they’ve hatched, you can begin feeding the tadpoles. In the wild, tadpoles feed on algae. As they grow, they begin to eat leaves, plant stems, and, eventually, dead insects. In captivity, it’s perfectly fine to feed them a pinch of lettuce or cabbage each day. Another option is to give them “Aquatic frog and tadpole food” or any other commercial tadpole foods.

Sprinkle the food on top of the water, only giving them what they can eat in about 3 hours. Remove any uneaten food after 3 – 4 hours and provide partial water changes twice per week or as needed. Also, as the tadpoles grow and take up more space, you may need to separate them into more containers.

Continue this process until your tadpoles metamorphose into juvenile toadlets. The entire process will take approximately 2 months. As the toadlets begin hopping around, you can start feeing them little fruit flies and pinhead crickets.

10 Interesting Facts about Tadpoles →

Handling American Toads

Do your best to avoid handling them as much as possible; it can be harmful to both you and the toad. As I mentioned earlier, their skin absorbs things it comes into contact with. Chemicals on your hands can be absorbed by the toad, which can potentially be harmful. Before holding, ensure your hands are clean and slightly wet. When finished, thoroughly wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap.

This species is one of the few toads known to carry bufotoxin, a white substance secreted from their parotoid glands. They cannot secrete the substance at will; it has to be squeezed out. Should you happen to get bufotoxin on your skin, don’t touch your eyes or mouth. Carefully sit the toad down and go clean yourself. To learn more about this subject, click here.

Transferring your pet from one container to another is okay. After all, you’ll need to clean their enclosure from time-to-time. Just do your best to limit handling as much as possible.

Infographic for the American Toad

American Toad Infographic

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93 Comments

  • Hello, I have 3 American toads this is my first year with them. I was wondering what a dark coloration means. In my reptiles it means they’re cold or stressed, are my girls okay? Their tank is small, 20 gal but the sub is set up as recommended and its heavily planted with lots of hides and a screen lid, room temp.

    Reply
  • Thanks so much for all the info here! I have had an american toad living on my patio in N IL for at least a two summers. “He’s” missing an eye and has some other facial scarring. I haven’t seen him since I last mowed and was horrified that I may have killed him but I’ve had a visit tonight and I’m so thrilled!

    I’ve had many reptiles and amphibians as pets and I so badly want to take him in. Although he looks a bit slim to me I’ve watched him eat and he seems fine, and perfectly happy where he’s at (he over-winters under the patio step). I’m guessing quality of life is better than longevity, particularly if it will seriously stress him out to become captive. I’ll leave him be for now, although I’m a bit attached and feel the need to “protect” him. Feedback welcome. He’s awfully tame and so cool, glad other people can relate!

    Reply
    • That’s a good story! I understand your situation! There was a Gray Tree Frog missing a leg where I used to live. He would hang out near the light on the back patio to eat bugs each night. I made sure to leave the light on for him lol. I watched him grow the whole summer! He was fine, even with a missing leg. I really wanted to put him in a terrarium but decided against it in the end. I’m jealous you’ve got a toad that sticks around your patio!

      Reply
  • I would like to know if my son has 3 American toad or dwarf American toads.. they were black toad poles and grew their back legs first and are like a brown colour since one now is hopping but are so tiny..found them in a lake and live in canada( Nova Scotia)I have them with shallow water, wet sand and Lilly pads in a plastic container till I get a tank. Iam going to get the coconut fibre this week.

    Reply
    • Is it an originally wild toad?
      Fully domestic toads may be at higher risk when ingesting wild food. Wild caught insects can carry many bacteria some fully domesticated toads may not have developed the stomach for. They also can carry parasites which is rare to find but still a risk.

      Reply
  • I have a wild-caught American toad named Rocky, he is a smart toad. I taught him to associate his cup with food, when I put him in it he amediently looks for the crickets! He also knows his name, and will crawl into my hand. I plan to breed him this spring, and will give his baby’s to my friends, who also love animals. Thanks for creating this page!

    Reply
  • Hey, i have a big toad and 2 babies, used to have 7 babies but they kept dying, they have a pretty big tank, a towel for the ground, moss around 1 corner of the tank and a large water bowl. I feed them FISH FOOD since it’s the middle of winter and i can’t just find normal bugs, and i would release them but it’s obviously too cold, idk where i can get them better food that’s not so expensive cause i come from a sorta poor family, i would buy them food but i don’t have any money since i’m 11 :/ I just feel really bad for them and i dunno what to do with them cause i don’t want them to die since i’ve grown really attached to them…

    Reply
  • We rescued a toad about a week ago and she seems pretty happy with her tank and soil and all but my question is how do lower the humidity in her tank ? The hydrometer says it’s 76% humidity in her tank . Thank you

    Reply
    • Do you have a screen lid on the tank? There may be humidity trapped in the substrate. The humidity will eventually drop but if you have a glass or plastic lid on the enclosure, or poor ventilation, the humidity will take a lot longer to drop.

      Reply
  • We have an american toad and right now it looks like his lower lid on one eye is swelled up and he can’t open it. It’s not red and not weeping, just clear but looks fluid filled. Could it be incomplete shed or something we should be getting medicine for?

    Reply
    • I’m sorry for the late reply. I hope your toad is doing better now. I try not to give advice on health issues related to frogs other than calling a local veterinarian.

      Reply
  • I decided to empty and redo my son’s toad’s terrarium today. The substrate got wetter than I anticipated and now the humidity is through the roof (showing at 85%). We have a screen top that I usually cover 1/2 of to help keep humidity in. I took the cover off. But I don’t know how else to eliminate the humidity- except for time. Is our toad in danger with this humidity? Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • That’s pretty high humidity for a toad. I think you’ll find the enclosure will dry out pretty fast though! A couple days will likely do the trick. If not, consider changing out some of the substrate.

      Reply
    • Sounds like your getting it too wet. Only mist once or twice a day during winter. Humidity is good though. Wouldn’t worry too much. Let it air out for a bit

      Reply
  • I live in midland Michigan and the eastern American toad is quite popular outside, and I’m wondering where I can buy my own? I found an injured one outside not long ago and have been nursing it back to health and I e really enjoyed it, but I know that adult toads from the wild don’t make great pets as they’re wild. Just wondering if anyone knows where I could possibly buy a young one?

    Reply
    • I need to write about post about this. It gets asked often and its a very good question. My first suggestion is to search Facebook for local breeders. Reptile/Amphibian conventions is another good way to find frogs. There are some places online you can buy from but I won’t recommend any of them because I haven’t used them.

      Reply
      • I just order 2 southern toads from reptile city. Will update when they arrive. I have toads and frogs since I was 15. My toad lived 15 years. I had to hand feed him til the end. Im nervous about this online buying. Unfortunately dont have much options anymore

  • Hi! I’m a first time toad owner. i found george (the aforementioned american toad that’s about 1.5″ inches both wide and long) in my backyard, and decided to keep him. I’ve purchased a 12″•8″•6″ inch acrylic tank with a built-in temperature hygrometer. i also purchased a bag of dehydrated crickets and canned mealworms as food, along with 4 quarts of sphagnum moss as substrate, as well as lots of leaf litter i pulled from the ground. I also bought a lightweight fishtank-ornament to provide a dark cave for him to hide in. The stuff hasn’t come in yet, so i don’t know how he’ll interact with his new environment, but i would like to ask if he needs anything else. Until the food arrives i’ve fed him flies, ladybugs, moths, and a few edible house spiders. Am I doing this right? I’d like some advice.

    Reply
    • Your toad needs live insects like crickets, mealworms, etc. I also recommend dusting live crickets with supplements (reptile calcium powder and vitamin/mineral powder)!

      Reply
    • Never feed bugs from the yard. Can carry parasites. Crickets are recommended. Everything else sounds great. Definitely the supplements, calcium and vitamins/mineral powder.

      Reply
  • Hi My husband is a mechanic who own his own car lot. He found a baby American toad in the car lot about 6 months ago, brought her home. She now fat, happy & living life to the fullest. Last night he came home with another one. My question is,can I add her into the tank with Molly(frog I’ve had for 6months)?

    Reply
    • So long is there is no real size difference. Also, keep a close eye on them to make sure they’re not fighting.

      Reply
  • I have 3 american toads my kids found back in the spring. I would like to build them a better home. They seem happy just want to upgrade them. What are your thoughts on a terrarium vs. a paludarium is better for them? The paludarium would be more 3/4 land 1/4 water with the clay “false” bottom and a substrate barrier but just wanted to see others thoughts on it. I know they don’t need a ton of water but like making it more natural. Currently they have a little dish for water but they can only fit in one at a time. Feed back please and thank you.

    Reply
    • There’s nothing wrong with that at all! My only thoughts are this: monitor the average humidity within the paludarium to ensure it’s not too high! Try to keep the humidity within the recommended range. Otherwise, have fun with it!

      Reply
  • We have two American Toads now. The older male we got on May 15, 2018. I was out in the yard and this poor little toad was liking up and me. He was having problems with his front legs. We put him in a 20 gallon aquarium and fed him a diet recommended by a herpetologist friend of ours who figured the poor toad had a problems in getting a balanced diet. 6 months later he was fine and growing but he became so tame he couldn’t be released back in the wild. This critter is smart. He let’s us know when he is hungry and he actually responds to my voice. When we are sitting at the table, he comes over to the edge of his cage to see what we are doing. 4 months ago our neighbor found another small male American toad who was traumatized by their dog. We put him in the aquarium with our other toad. The two get along famously and the older one has taught the younger one all his tricks. They do their begging routine in sync and all the other things the older one does.

    I am able to get a lot of closeup pictures. As soon as I put in the iPhone, they Immediately come over to see what is up, so I get great pictures. Our herpetologist friend finds it very amusing that the older toad seems to be mentoring the younger toad.

    What has impressed me is how smart these critters are. They show definite intelligence beyond normal animal instincts. What is curious is if there is going to be a big storm, they will dig into their wet peat moss about 12 hours before the storm comes. This also includes winter storms since these guys remain awake all winter.

    I hope these observations inspires other people to see how complex these little critters are…

    Reply
  • So earlier last night I was out in my backyard at night, and I came across this one toad. It had a small scratch on his side that was bleeding. It also appeared that there was something sticking out of their back, that looked a lot like a bone. Around that area it was a little pink circle. I knew that all I could do was put him back whete he was, I just hope that he’s not in too much pain. 😥

    Reply
  • I have a set little toad that’s been with me for three months and she’s still happy and healthy! However, I recently learned it’s illegal to buy eastern american toads in my state. I think she would love a friend and I was wondering if there are any non native Virginian species that could possibly live with her or if i need to go back outside and roll the dice and quarantine another toad…

    Reply
    • Raising them from tadpoles is an idea. I don’t recommend mixing species in the same enclosure because of the different mild toxins each species produces. They may have little or not effect on humans but small amphibians can be harmed by this.

      Reply
  • do they need to hibernate if they have a heating lamp or pad? and if they do how can I prep his terrarium?

    Reply
    • In order for them to hibernate they would need to be in condition similar to what they would experience in the wild. Otherwise, they don’t hibernate if the temperature stays warm enough.

      Reply
  • I found a toad today out by a tree, ” rushing” to a pile of sticks. we have lake and a creek a few blocks from here but its still a distance away. when i went to check out the toad I noticed blood on his back leg , which seems a bit chewed up and he is missing his front hand. Im thinking a bird (we have ergets, heron, seagulls aorund etc – I live in IL) snatched him up and probably dropped him before being able to eat it. I took him inside and rinsed him off and set up a small exo terra with some moss I have ( I own a couple different reptiles) a small dish for meal worms an a log cave and plant hanging over the cave to make it seem more covered. I don’t have any coco fiber tho 🙁 .. I’ll be adding in a small water dish just as soon as I find something suitable in the house that’s not too deep. he seems to be able to walk around still and his eyes are very bright. Im thinking ill keep in a couple of days to let his hand heal up before releasing him. any other bits of advice anyone can offer?? I had american toad tadpoles years ago until they morphed into froglets. Im not in the habit of keeping wild animals, and I do want to release him as long as I know hes mobile enough and able to get food.

    Reply
    • That sounds like a good plan. Live crickets and mealworms dusted with reptile calcium/vitamins would be helpful. Since he is wild, you could safely use clean substrate for your local area but be sure to thoroughly clean the terrarium and decorations when you’re done!

      Reply
    • One of my toads lost a leg from getting stuck in the couch bed. I felt awful. Yet I cleaned it and he lived 15 years. They are durable babies

      Reply
  • Hey I just caught a baby toad and set up an enclosure. I was wondering what will happen in the winter. Ive read a few of the comments, but I’m still unsure what to do

    Reply
    • So long as the enclosure is inside your house and the temperature is around 70 (where most people tend to keep their thermostat), your toad won’t hibernate.

      Reply
  • There is a toad living on my front porch and has been there all summer. It hides behind flower pots and inside planters. Where will it go in the winter?

    Reply
    • It will most likely burrow into the ground somewhere and hibernate – although this term is used to describe what warm-blooded animals do. Cold-blooded animals go into a state of Torpor or Brumation.

      Reply
  • Hi there, just recently bought a Colorado River toad about a 10 days ago, he was active the first day checking out his 20 gallon tank, i researched how to set up and what to feed, but he only ate the first day and just burrowed under a log and the soil since then, haven’t seen him come out and the soil doesn’t seem to have moved each morning I check.? Hes in a 70degree room and idk what to do? Is this burrowing normal at first? Havent been able to find answers anywhere. Need helpful advice. Thank you so much for your time and expertise.

    Reply
    • It’s hard to say. I’m not familiar with their requirements but some frogs/toads burrow. Also, if the humidity isn’t within the recommended range, your pet might be trying to get humidity from the substrate.

      Reply
  • Hi this article was very helpful, I have a male american toad and I use Repashy superfood Calcium Plus. I never knew you needed vitamin supplements I have no idea what to buy there is hundreds of options. Is the calcium powder that I use a good choice and what type of vitamin powder should I Get?

    Reply
    • Repashy is good! They also make vitamin powders for reptiles. You can mix this into their feedings once or twice a week.

      Reply
  • Is it safe for toads to hibernate in captivity? Because my room is in the basement and during the summer it stays pretty warm down here but during the winter it gets kinda chilly. Would I need a reptile heating pad or something of the sorts? I’ve never owned a toad and I currently don’t have one but I’m planning on getting one soon.

    Reply
    • It’s okay if they hibernate. To keep them from hibernating you’ll need to keep the temperature up. Sometimes a heating mat will work but a heat lamp tends to work better.

      Reply
  • I have a African bullfrog and just got my toad today! Can they eat Dubai roaches too?

    Reply
    • Sure can! Dubia roaches are a great source of food so long as they’re the appropriate size (so your toad doesn’t choke).

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    • I just found an American Toad and I’m considering keeping it, I have the right water, the right tank, but I’m wondering what I should feed it, the toad looks young, can I feed it random insects and bugs or is there a more proper diet for my dry warty friend?

      Reply
  • If it’s been living in your basement for a few years, it obviously has food, and a way in and out. I would leave it alone.

    Reply
  • We have a little toad that we have raised since he/she was a tiny tadpole. My partner thinks we should release him. I’m afraid he will get eaten and not be able to find food. We tried crickets, but he didn’t seem interested. We use commercial food and swirl it around in his water until he snaps it up. I know not ideal. Thinking of getting meal worms, but don’t know how to feed them to him.
    Right now his tank is probably too wet for a toad. Small river rocks on bottom with bigger rocks spread around. I added some leaves off the bushes from our complex and we fill a little “pond” in the corner with fresh water every day. I bought some coconut fiber, spagnum, a water dish/pond, and a log hiding place, but want to make sure I create the best environment for him and not traumatize him with all new surroundings. How moist should I make it? Can I leave the small rocks in the bottom under the substrate or should I take them out? Also, how often would I have to feed him mealworms and how would I go about it since he’s used to eating the frog/tadpole food in his pond (we suck out all the unused food several times a day and replace it with new creek water we collect on hikes)?
    Sorry for the twenty questions. I’ve become attached to the little guy and want to make sure he is getting all he needs.
    Great resource, by the way!

    Reply
    • Hey thanks for your comment and sorry for the late response! You can learn more about what frogs/toads eat in captivity here. He would probably be just fine if you set him free. If not, just do your best to provide him with everything he needs. Most toads like to burrow, so a deep layer of substrate is recommended. Rocks are fine in some parts of the enclosure but they really need places to burrow and hide. I highly recommend live mealworms and crickets dusted with reptile vitamins and calcium. It helps keep them healthy in captivity!

      Reply
  • I’m a beginner toad keeper and I just found a smaller toad that seems to be blind or injured in both eyes. I wish to help it but I don’t really think it would be good to put him in with my other toads, or how to get him to eat. I don’t have a spot for him to live permanently yet as I’m using a small container with wholes poked through and the same soil i use for my other toads, but I don’t exactly know how to help him. He’s only about an inch if that helps. His eyes seem to either have stuck shed skin over them or they are just injured.

    Reply
    • I know its hard not being able to help. Sometimes the best thing to do is to leave them where they’re at. I once found a tree frog missing a leg. He got around alright and seemed to be fine. He would hang out eating bugs by an outside light at my house.

      Reply
  • Hi,Im getting a toad soon from the pet store how much do you think I should feed it when i put the toad in my tank.

    Reply
    • The diet section talks a bit about this topic. I recommend 3 – 5 appropriately-sized crickets every other day. If he/she eats all the crickets each time you feed it, try increasing the number of crickets by 1. Don’t go overboard. Some toads will just eat and eat and become overweight.

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    • This site is amazing! My kids brought 3 toads and 8 tadpoles of various stages home from the stream. I set up a terrarium for the 3 toads and they seem to be happy and hungry. They eat well (crickets and mealworms) and just hang out. (Why do their necks “flutter” like that?) Two are bigger and one is a little guy. I am not sure if he is smaller because he’s male and the larger ones are female or they are just older and therefore bigger. Regarding the tadpoles, there are 4 tiny black ones and 4 blobbier ones that are cute. 2 of them just grew tiny legs and one is pretty well-developed. He has arms and legs and has a frog-face now! His tail is getting shorter every day! I read that he wouldn’t be eating much because he’s absorbing his tail. I have a place in the tank where he can climb up if he wants to and can breathe the air. When would I move him to a terrarium like the other toads are in? I want to make sure I don’t move him too soon or keep him in the water too long… The tiny black tadpoles have been eating some fresh kale and cucumber. I put in some of the commercial tadpole pellet food. I’ve never seen any of them eat that. It sinks to the bottom. I also throw in a piece of an algae wafer. When do I start feeding insects to the almost-toadlet? At the bottom of the tank I have aquarium gravel and have been using spring water/bottled water in the tank. How high should the water be? Does the water need to be treated with Stress Coat or something like that (would this hurt them?)? The water never seems clear, even after a water change. I apologize for the zillion questions but I love these little guys and want to make sure I’m caring for them properly. One last question… if all of the tadpoles turn into toads, I will have 11 toads. While that would be awesome, in theory, I don’t have the space for 11 toads. I would like to keep my almost-toadlet and put him in the tank with the other 3 frogs, if he’s not too tiny because I don’t want them to eat him. I’d love to watch the other tadpoles turn into toads but since I can’t keep them, what is the latest that they could be returned to the same stream and still be ok back in the wild? Thank you so much!!! 🙂🙂🙂

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      • Hey, Karen! That’s exciting! As it turns out, I currently have tadpoles around the same form as yours. A few have all their legs, one is hoping around, and the rest are between have only two legs so far. Anyway, I’ll do my best to help.

        Once the front legs are developed it usually only takes 1 – 2 days for them to absorb their tail and start hoping around on land. You can provide food for them immediately but they may not be interested. Just give them a little time. You may try getting some flyless fruit flies from the pet store. They’re about as small as it gets. Pinhead crickets (really young, small crickets) work well when the frog is large enough. Continue to feed them boiled lettuce or commercial tadpole food until they’ve transition to flies or crickets.

        Moving them is fairly simple if you’ve got a decent sized water bowl. I’m going to use a large exo terra water bowl. Something like that or a zilla “terraced” dish. Really anything that holds a fair amount of water but is also easy for a little frog to climb out the side. Put the water dish in a terrarium with some substrate around it and you should be fine. Just be sure they’re not with the full grown toads. Some toads/frogs eat their own kind. If it moves and fits in their mouth, they will eat it. So keep your little guys away from the full-grown ones.

        Sounds like you’re doing good on their water. Spring water is great! I’m not sure about stress coat. I’ve used water conditioners for tap water and it works great – even with delicate tadpoles.

        As for releasing – you can do this any time. Once they’ve got legs and they’re eating insects is when I plan to release mine. I’ll take them back to the same spot I found them and place them by the water.

        I hope this was helpful and I hope I answered all your questions!

    • If your toad is small feed him daily , if he is big feed him 2-3 times a week. I feed mine earthworms they seem to love them.

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  • We captured two American toads last august. They have a 20 gal terrarium with shelter and water and coconut to dig in. They seem pretty active. At least ones a male. Both seem old enough to trill. Neither does. At least not regularly. Thoughts?

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    • They usually get active during the spring time when its rainy. Check out this article for more information. I assume you keep them inside your house in the terrarium? What’s most likely happening is their environment isn’t close enough to a rainy season to make them croak. They mostly have the same temperature day in and day out – same with the humidity, etc. An increase in temperature, humidity, and water in their enclosure could get them talking.

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  • Hi, I just got an American Toad and was wondering if it will hibernate thru the winter while in captivity.

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    • It shouldn’t. The weather change, length of day, and other factors all tell toads to go into hibernation. Since he/she is inside, it won’t have those changes so it most likely won’t hibernate. Now, it depends on where the enclosure is set up. If its inside your house and the temp stays around 70 year round, then it probably won’t hibernate. On the other hand, if the enclosure is in a garage or some other place that gets fairly cold, it might go into hibernation.

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  • I’ve had a toad for about 4 months now and he just doesn’t move. He sits in his little log all day and night. He burrows under his log and just sits there. I feed him every other day and he has a 10 gallon aquarium with abg mix and easy access to water but he just won’t be active and walk around it’s the first day of spring so maybe the temperature is too cold but idk

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  • I have been raising 4 young toads since late September. Their environment/feeding has been maintained as you described. They have been thriving EXCEPT lastnight I found one toad which was struggling to walk, seemed dry and eyes were closing. It doesn’t appear to be bloated and I feel 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 that. 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, eyes open, front legs tucked in, back legs are 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 it’s back legs but no attempt to walk/move. I am thinking about moving it to a different container and providing more heat. Any advice or thoughts?

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    • Wow I’m sorry to hear that. I wonder what happened. Out of the 4, there is only 1 struggling, right? Your idea of moving it to a different container with a bit more heat sounds good. Burrowing would be normal behavior but it sounds like its unable to due to the leg problems? It’s been a while since your first comment and I apologize for not getting back to you sooner – Any update on this situation?

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  • I found a large toad in my outdoor greenhouse this morning. Inside the greenhouse the temperature is around 62 degrees at night. The greenhouse has a dirt floor and he must have dug under the wood frame. I don’t know how to care for him or her although growing up I played with toads. Where can I buy the millworms and the other foods you mentioned? Should I buy an aquarium to keep him in where he can find the food I buy for him? They are wonderful little things. Last year a smaller toad got in the greenhouse and he did not survive. I don’t want anything to happen to this one. I do not use any poison spray in my greenhouse. Please give me some advice. Thank you, Marguerite

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    • I recommend helping the toad find his/her way out of your greenhouse 🙂 A wild toad should generally stay wild. Taking them into captivity after being wild their whole life can be stressful for them. Crickets, worms, etc can generally be found at pet stores if you’re looking to feed them!

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  • Two days ago I found an injured toad in our window well, I am going to try to get him healed and release him in the spring. We suddenly have snow on the ground so I am sure he should have hibernated but he would freeze outside now. I bought the substrate for an aquarium but am now not sure I should have soaked in in water..can someone answer that for me?

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    • Hey there! If you’re going to be keeping the toad inside during the winter I recommend reading a care sheet. It will give you important information like the recommended temperature, humidity, diet, etc. As for the substrate… yes, you might have needed to soak it in water. It depends. Some substrates come in what looks like a brick. You’re supposed to soak those in water. If the substrate was loose – like it came in a bag, then you probably didn’t need to soak it. Either way, your toad’s substrate will need to be misted occasionally but shouldn’t be soggy! I hope this helps!

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  • I’m looking to get a pet toad but pet stores around me don’t sell them. Any suggestions? Thanks

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    • I recommend checking facebook for local breeders! Also, look for some reptile conventions. They’re a great place to get started.

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  • My daughter American toad was super small, maybe an inch long. We couldn’t find it in the cage. We dug though the dirt, and found it, but it wasn’t moving. What could have happened?

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    • It could have been a number of different things. What were you feeding the toad? Also, were you keeping track of the temperature and humidity?

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  • We keep a wild toad that was inadvertently, badly injured by my son. My son rolled our heavy gate to close it and the toad lived under the corner. Apparently he decided to come out while the gate was open and my son didn’t see him. It nearly ripped one of his back legs off. He has become a permanent resident inside the house now because he would be easy prey (we have an abundance of the few predators that will eat them) without his back leg. Once we got the wound healed up, his leg atrophied and is little more than a nub left. He’s hardy and eats like a pig! My advice (I’m no expert but we’ve had a little experience with the toads and have frogs as well), try some different types of bugs from time to time and since she’s missing an eye, she may not be able to see the worms as well. Maybe try feeding inside in a dark bowl so the contrast is easier for her to see. Also make sure she only gets the lightest colored and very active worms, with only half of her vision, she may not be able to see the less active worms. Good luck with her! Ours has been fairly well adjusted!

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  • Curious…
    Do toads require stimulation?? Or, are they content to sit all day and wait to be fed? If so, is there anything that I can add to their habitat?

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    • The best thing you can do for any captive amphibian is to recreate their natural environment within their enclosure. What do you mean by stimulation, btw? Having some living plants, plenty of hiding spots, clean water, a nice day and night cycle, and some food is about all you need to keep a toad happy 🙂

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  • I have toads in my downstairs window enclosures (the metal that encases windows that would otherwise be underground). These toads are quite active and provide entertainment for my cats! What will happen to these toads as winter creeps up?

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    • For toads in colder climates, they will burrow into the ground and hibernate during the winter months.

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  • Thanks so much this is a great website. I am planning to get a toad in a few days and am exited!

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    • You’re welcome and thanks for the nice comment. That’s awesome – Good luck with your new toad! Come back any time if you need some help or have any questions!

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  • Do you knowing any online shops that sell American toad tadpoles ? Or the adults ?

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    • Hey, Chris! There are some places online where you can buy various types of tadpoles (including eBay, strangely enough) but I personally haven’t ordered from them so I cannot recommend any.

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  • We have had a female American toad living on our back porch for about three years. I keep meal worms Because I also have button quail. She figured out when I would feed the quail and started showing up. About three weeks ago I found her injured. We have turtles living in our backyard and I believe one may have caused the injury. It was pretty bad, but we were able to bring her inside and treat the injury. The wound has healed, but she has lost an eye. Where before she would eat 6 to 8 mill worms, now she can manage two or three. I have been taking her back outside on the back porch to feed her as I always have. Then I bring her back in at night to her tank. I don’t want to get in the habit of doing that because I’m not always sure I can. Thoughts?

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    • Sorry to hear that your friendly toad got injured! I have two theories on why it isn’t eating as much. One, frogs use their eyes to help them swallow their food. Due to the injury your toad sustained, it might have a difficult time swallow its food. Or, if the injury was recent, it’s eye may still hurt and the loss of appetite could be temporary. The other possibility is that the toad is stressed. Wild amphibians have a very hard time adapting to captivity. You said you treated the toad and helped it recover from the injury? That’s very kind of you! Just remember that the toad might be stressed while you were caring for it. This could lead to a loss of appetite as well.

      Any update on how things are going so far? Thank you for commenting.

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    • Several years ago I found a road living in my basement. I maintained a Laissez Faire attitude, but this spring I happened to mention to my adult daughter that I had one and she said I should get it outside and I am willing to do that, but the only animals with which the toad has interacted are my cats who seem to reflect my attitude. But will it be ok if I make a little park for it In my flower garden? Should I feed it for a bit? Or not?

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      • Toads need a wide variety of foods to maintain a healthy diet. It would be fine in your basement for a few days or weeks but eventually, without a proper diet, it would become sick and eventually die. The best thing for the toad is to be out in the wild 🙂

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