How to Take Care of a Toad! The Ultimate Guide

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In the rainy season, we always get toads roaming around our house. My mother always names one of them. This time, I decided that I would not let them run away, and so I kept one of them. But, I wasn’t sure how I could take care of him. So, I decided to research a lot, and hence I came up with this post.

toad care guide

Do toads make good pets?

Toads definitely make good pets. They’re fun to watch, you don’t have to care much about them, and they don’t need much affection. Their feeding time is also quite humble, and the cleaning is minimum compared to other small pets

Moreover, you don’t have to spend a lot either on the initial costs or the monthly ones as there are little to no costs involved here.

Anyways, there is a lot to be said about these and you need a few minutes to understand all this to take better care of your toad. So, do read till the end.

Where to buy toads?

from Reddit user u/Magd_aaa

You can buy toads at almost all reptile-specific pet stores. Petco also sells toads and frogs, so that’s a plus too. You can also procure toads from private breeders at reptile conventions, expos, et cetera. In case you don’t want to spend anything, just get out on a rainy night with a torch and get yourself one.

If you are getting the toad from the wild, make sure it is not an endangered species. Keeping an endangered species at home is against the law. [1]

Try also to get smaller toads as they will most likely be eaten if you hadn’t picked them up. The larger females serve to increase the population, hence picking them is not a good idea.

How to differentiate between a toad and a frog?

YouTube video

Toads are actually a part of the larger frog species, but there are several differences between a common frog and an American toad. [2]

Toads are much larger compared to frogs and are less flexible than frogs as well. That’s why toads hop around while frogs lean. Frogs have moist skin all over their body while toads have warty skin.

Toads do have some poison in their parotid glands, while most common frogs are harmless. This is due to evolutionary reasons where frogs have much better vision than toads, while toads are gifted with poison in case there is a predator.

The poison comes out when glands behind the eyes are severely pressed. It’s dangerous only if ingested hence unlikely to harm humans. [3]

Toads also do not have teeth. In contrast, frogs do have teeth – two different types.

BTW, Cane toads are highly dangerous, and they should be avoided.

How many years do American toads live for?

Reddit user u/Jazulupoopoo

The oldest toad is over 40 years old. [4] But, the average age of an American toad is between 10 to 12 years. [5]

What do toads need to survive?

Like all other animals, toads need a safe environment to survive with food and water available for them. They love to dig, hide, and climb. So, those accessories should also be provided.

Besides that, toads are lovely animals and would love to eat from your hands. They don’t need much beyond that.

How do you keep a pet toad?

There are lots of elements in taking care of a toad.

This guide will go through each one of them. Take a cup of coffee, sit back, and learn how you can take care of your American toad.

1. Container

First, you need a big enough plastic container (preferably) or a glass tank.

In case you choose the plastic container, make sure it’s around 3 ft² and has a lid (with a lock) on it. A 3 ft² container can house up to 3 toads.

Now, drill holes up, down, and in the sideways, so the air passes to them, and they can be easy. Also, if you can, add an aluminum sheet around it to enclose moisture.

Or you can buy a ready-made one like this one on Amazon.


2. Soil

Toads love to dig—a lot.

You need to provide them something they can dig into. For that, eco earth or coconut fiber could be your best bet. Tropical soil could also work fine. All of these items are easily available online, or you can get them at home depot.

Please make sure the soil (whatever type you choose) is at least up to their height so that they can take in when they feel fear, or they want to hibernate.

3. Water dish


They also need a water dish to soak themselves and drink whenever required. Make sure the water is filtered and not from the tap. Tap water can contain chlorine, which is harmful to toads.

Purified water is also fine, but it lacks the essential minerals.

4. Substrate

They also need to have some sort of substrate. Some moss should be perfect here. You can either buy it online or try to find it outside. The online ones are dry at first, but you can add water, and they will become just like the fresh ones.

5. Other elements

You can add in some dead leaves to make the environment much closer to their natural habitat.

They also love to hide in the woods, and hence a half log would be beneficial. You can add some cork wood as well to make their bedding.

Grapevine can also be added as toads love to climb, and they provide an easy way to do so.

In case you want to add stones and other things from outside, sanitize before adding anything.

6. Surroundings

Frogs do not need any extraordinary temperatures to live in. They are perfectly comfortable at room temperature (anywhere between 70 to 80° Fahr.)

Mostly, they do not require any extra lights either. But, the room should be adequately lit, and they should be able to understand day and night time as they are nocturnal beings.

Lastly, make sure the environment is not so clogged that they have no area to move around.

What do toads eat?

Credits to Instagram user: sheena_and_friends (Check the original post here)

Do not provide toads with fruits, veggies, or any human food.

Toads are insectivorous. They love to eat insects, and depending on their age and size, they can eat any insect, including mealworms, roaches, crickets, dubia roaches, et cetera.

Remember that the hard insects should not be larger than the distance between the toad’s eyes. Not following the advice could harm toad’s exoskeleton. Larger worms are fine, though.

Note: Do not provide them with wild bugs. Wild ones can contain parasites that could harm the toad.

For young/little toads, pinhead crickets and fruit flies should be fine. You should only provide tiny insects to them as they are quite small themselves.

Besides these, toads do need nutrients and especially calcium and Vitamin D3. To provide that, you can sprinkle their insects with D3 + calcium powder, and that should be enough.

How to take care of a toad

Reddit user u/Knopperr521

Besides doing the initial work, there are very few tasks you need to do every day.

First, regarding providing food, toads should only be provided within 2 to 3 days. Providing a lot of food can make them fat. Also, do not just throw away a lot of mealworms in their container as mealworms could hide inside the soil, and it would be quite hard for the toads to eat them.

Some other insects, like crickets, can also do some damage. Crickets are known to eat feet of frogs. So provide them in separate containers only.

You need to change the water every other day as they poop quite a lot in it. And, while doing that, mist/re-hydrate their surroundings and the moss with non-chlorinated water.

Do toads need a heat lamp?

This is quite a controversial subject in the frog community as they haven’t been a lot of research on this. Most community members disagree with the notion that there is a need for any heating or UV light source.

In case you really want to add, add in a ceramic heat emitter or an incandescent heat lamp. You can also put the bulb just above the enclosure using a clamp. Make sure the bulb has a thermostat, and it does not get too hot for the toad to service.

Bulbs anywhere between 13 to 25 W should be fine.  

The heat could dry out the container, and you may need to re-moist a lot.

Do toads get lonely?

Reddit user u/Knopperr521

Most frogs are solitary creatures, so even if you keep only one toad, it should be fine. However, most toad owners keep them in pairs. Sometimes, keeping two or more males would lead to fighting for females, and hence keeping one male and two females is a better choice.

There are also questions regarding keeping two different frog species together. This is not recommended as they could fight for area and domination. They could also infect each other with parasites and other diseases.

Do toads die in the winter?

Reddit user u/Toadorothetoad

Toads do not die in winter. They hibernate. Toads tend to save their energy by going into their burrows so deep that the frost levels are avoided altogether.

Their bodies, especially the important organs, contain a lot of glucose, and thus it helps them avoid freezing in the winter.

Toads hibernate approximately 5 to 6 months. The process starts between September and October in the fall and ends in April next year.

If your toad lives inside, likely, he wouldn’t feel the cold outside-freeze, but due to natural reasons, they may still become lazy and may not come out for a long time.

It’s a good idea to check them from time to time and see if they are hungry or not. Hibernation is a completely natural process, and you should not treat it as some sort of illness.

Related questions

Can you get warts by touching toads?

There is a misconception that touching toads could lead to warts on the body. It has no basis in facts.

How long can toads survive without food?

Toads are known to survive long without eating. They survive 5 to 6 months without eating under the earth when they hibernate. So a few weeks should not do any harm.

How to differentiate between male and female toad?

Females are generally larger. And, when you press on the glands on the upper back of male toads, they chirp. Females don’t.

YouTube video

How to eliminate toad odor?

Toads do not make so much bad odor that you to apply some technique to eliminate it. Anyways, if there is too much odor, you can use incense candles which are readily available in the market.

Advices in this article also apply to other toad species?

Advices in this article should work for all true toads (bufo).

My toad is not eating. What to do?

Initially, toads may find it difficult to understand you. You are a large creature, and they fear predators. Give them some time, and they will surely come back to eat even from your hands.

Any precautions for touching the toad?

Toads are amphibians, and hence they can absorb stuff thorough their skin. Therefore, whenever you touch your lovely little buddy, make sure nothing unusual is applied to your skin.

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