Now when most people think of toads, they think of ugly, slimy, wart-covered animals that make them want to say “yuck,” but they can actually be very interesting pets, and they have pretty dry skin most of the time. They are low maintenance, easy to care for, and can be very entertaining. You may even come to see that they can be pretty cute, once you get to know them.
Now many people prefer to buy an exotic toad form a pet store, but this isn’t’ really necessary as toads live in most warm climates; you just have to be willing to go out and find one. This is easier than it sounds once you know what you’re looking for, and where NOT to look. Toads, unlike frogs, do not live in water. They are terrestrial animals and prefer to stay further inland, but they can still be found relatively close to a large water source since they are still amphibians and need to lay their eggs in water.
You can probably find them in any large park, or even in your own backyard if you live near a lake or river. Once you find a good place to search, look around for stumps, large rocks, fallen trees and other shady places. Toads like to hide in the shadows and half-burry themselves in cool dirt and mud, so you will have to look hard to see them. Once you spot your new pet, catching him won’t be too hard as toads have limited jumping ability. Simply place your hand over him, and scoop him up. Note he may pee on you as a defensive measure, but this will NOT give you warts. That is a foolish superstition. All you need to do is wash your hands later on.
You need very little in order to keep your toad happy. All he really needs is dirt to dig into, something to hide under like a piece of bark, or a wooden half-tunnel that you can get at most pet stores, water, and food. Your toad will need a layer of soil in his tank about as deep as he is big so he can burry himself if he wants, I recommend collecting dirt out of your back yard as some store bought soil has pesticides in it that may harm your pet. You should also place some kind of shelter in the tank. It doesn’t need to be too much larger than the toad, just enough to hide himself. Toads like to lie in wait for food much of the time. (mine likes to hide under a warped piece of tree-bark.)
Your toad will also need water, but DON’T give him a pool. Toads don’t like water as much as frogs do. All your toad needs is a water dish just large enough for him to sit in. Amphibians absorb water through their skin, so you probably won’t see him actually drinking. You can also spray or mist the tank on occasion to keep the soil moist, but whatever you do, don’t use tap water; THIS WILL KILL HIM! Most tap water has chlorine in it, and amphibians absorb this through their skin. That’s why everyone looks at amphibians for signs of pollution; they are more sensitive to such things.
Now there are several ways around this problem. You can collect water for a nearby pond or other natural water source, or you can collect rain. If there is no nearby water source, and rain is too unreliable, you can use a dehumidifier and collect the water from that. I use this method since it ensures that I always have a ready supply. Finally, if you don’t have a dehumidifier, you can just boil some tap water to get rid of the chlorine, but I try to avoid this as it might not always be effective. Also, although toads cannot jump as well as frogs, they can still manage to get out of a ten gallon tank if they really want to, so you should keep some sort of lid on it when you are not feeding or watching him.
It’s a simple fact that toads are gluttons, and they will eat just about anything small enough for them to swallow. You can just buy crickets at a pet store, but this can cause problems later in your pets life, and who wants to eat the same thing everyday anyway? All you have to do is take a jar, go outside, and collect any bugs you find under rocks and logs. When it is time to feed your toad, pull up a seat and see where he is at. Toads usually like to pick out a favorite hiding spot when they are not sitting in the water. Once you see him, drop the bugs in one at a time in front of him. He will quickly snap them up with his tongue. If you dropped all the bugs in at once, he would only get one or two before the rest managed to scatter for cover. You don’t have to worry about overfeeding your toad as they are natural gluttons.
I’ve never heard of a toad eating itself to death, but they can get very fat (which means they are healthy) if your toad looks skinny, he is probably about to die. Drop bugs in front of your toad even after he stops eating them. At night, the creepy crawlies will come out and your toad will snatch them up at his convenience; most toads are nocturnal hunters anyway. If you have two toads and one is much larger than the other, keep them separate since toads are not above cannibalism. (a very large toad can even eat mice and small lizards!)
Mating toads is very tricky since they lay their eggs in water and the young tadpoles have complicated dietary needs. I don’t recommend even trying this. Don’t take your toad outside, as it can burry itself and you can easily lose your pet, and if you look in the tank and don’t see your toad, don’t panic; he may have just buried himself, so check the soil before you look around your room. During the winter, toads hibernate, but if you keep your room warm, your toad shouldn’t need to, though this may shorten his lifespan. The two large bumps on a toads head right behind his eyes are actually poison sacks. They cannot harm you unless you apply significant pressure to them, and even then it won’t harm you through skin contact as long as you wash the exposed area.
This is a defense mechanism against being eaten. Your toad can be picked up and gently handled, though if you scare it, it may pee on you and chirp in panic. If you wish to handle your pet, I recommend little more than light petting and holding in a cupped hand. When touched, you toad will probably close its eyes and shift its body in your direction, this is to make itself harder for predators to swallow. And on a final note, your toad, like all amphibians, needs to shed its skin as it grows. You’ll know it is doing this when it looks wet and slimy, as toads are usually pretty dry. It will rub itself with its legs, and it will actually EAT its old skin. Waste not.