Bufo species (American, Marine, Fowler’s, etc.)

CAGING:

Toads may be kept in a 10 gallon (marine toads) or smaller aquarium, or similar sized plastic shoebox or sweater box. The substrate can be bark nuggets or smooth, large pebbles that cannot be easily ingested. Plants, if added, should be kept in pots; do not use soil as a substrate. The environment, with the exception of the water dish, should be dry.

WATER:

De-chlorinated, filtered, or spring water should be used. Tap water can be de-chlorinated either chemically or by boiling or letting it stand overnight in an open container. Amphibians do not drink water, they absorb it through their skin, therefore a water dish should be provided that is large enough for the animal to easily get in and out of. Water should be changed every other day, or as soon as it is soiled.

TEMPERATURE:

Toads should be kept at 70 to 80 degrees F. They tolerate, but should not be maintained, at elevated temperatures for extended periods. At lower temperatures do not feed the animal as much or as often since they will not be digesting food as quickly.

FOOD:

Toads eat a varied diet; crickets, mealworms, waxworms, pink and fuzzy mice and earthworms - to name some food items. Do not overfeed; it is better to offer smaller amounts of food more often than a large amount at one setting. Toads have voracious appetites and will easily become obese if offered too much food.

Food items should be lightly dusted with a supplement that contains calcium and phosphorus in a 2:1 calcium:phosphorus ratio and vitamins A and D3.

HEALTH:

Toads will occasionally appear puffed up for a short period and undergo spastic movements with their hind legs, scraping them over their body - this is normal shedding behavior. The animal will soon remove its outer skin in this fashion and briefly be covered with a clear slime which soon disappears. If the temperature range is correct, a loss of appetite is reason for concern. Always examine water quality first, then air quality (airborne contaminants can settle in the water or directly on the animal), then food quality. A bacterial infection known as “red-leg” will sometimes affect toads. It is characterized by a reddening of the underside of the toad’s belly and/or hind legs. It develops into open lesions and if not treated is usually fatal. Consult a veterinarian for antibiotics and dosages. Don’t use disinfectants; traces of them remaining in the cage could harm or kill your toad. Wash the cage with warm water and a small amount of mild dish soap. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely to remove any traces of chlorine from the tap water.

HANDLING:

Handling should be kept to a minimum. All amphibians have a permeable skin that is sensitive to toxins. Quite often, in the course of a day, one’s hands can become covered with numerous substances that are poisonous to a frog (hair spray, insecticides, chalk, ink, disinfectants, soaps, etc.) - be certain to thoroughly wash your hands before handling the animal. Be aware of the poison glands (the large bumps directly behind the eyes and above the ears). The poison (a milky looking substance) of a marine toad is strong enough to kill a dog or cat, and conceivably a person if enough is ingested. It can also severely irritate eyes and nasal linings. The poison is secreted from the poison glands if the animal is sufficiently stressed.