Home | Amphibians | My Animal Collection: How a Herpetologist Keeps American Toads, Bufo (Anaxyrus) americanus and Related Species, Part I

My Animal Collection: How a Herpetologist Keeps American Toads, Bufo (Anaxyrus) americanus and Related Species, Part I

American Toad Setup

Today’s article is the second in a series concerning animals in my own collection.  For additional information concerning this line of articles, please see My Animal Collection: How a Herpetologist Keeps Barking Treefrogs (Hyla gratiosa) and Gray Treefrogs (Hyla versicolor).

Note: the following information is also largely applicable to other toads that commonly appear in the pet trade, i.e. the Great Plains toad, B. cognatus, the Gulf Coast toad, B. valliceps, the southern toad, B. terrestris, Woodhouse’s toad, B. woodhousei and the Texas toad, B. speciosus.  Fowler’s toads and the various Spadefoot toads prefer arid substrates…I’ll cover the care of both in the future.

Most North American toads in the Genus Bufo have been recently reclassified within the Genus Anaxyrus, but not all herpetologists agree on this point.

An Ideal Terrarium Pet

As with many of the animals I favor, American toads have much to offer the hobbyist but are not as popular as some of their more colorful relatives (actually, they vary greatly in color – I have run across yellow, reddish and nearly black specimens in the field).

Perhaps because they are so well- protected by virulent skin toxins, American toads are calm and confiding in captivity.  They usually take on diurnal habits, and even wild caught adults will feed from the hand in short order.  Pardon the stretch, but their behavior brings to mind that of the striped skunks I have kept.  Skunks seem to know that they are “untouchable”, and hence are very approachable (even in the wild)…toads are much like that, at least in my mind!

They are also quite intelligent and responsive – please see my article entitled “Amphibian Learning Abilities – the Southern Toad, Bufo (Anaxyrus) terrestris and Bumblebee Mimicsfor further details.

Designing the Terrarium

I currently keep 2 yearling American toads in a Tom Aquarium Jumbo PLA-House Plastic Terrarium.  This terrarium’s ventilation ports assure adequate air exchange (despite favoring moist habitats, toads and other amphibians fare poorly in stagnant air) yet are small enough to prevent small feeder insects from escaping.  This set-up is dismantled and cleaned weekly – the terrarium’s light weight simplifies this chore.

Substrate

The substrate pictured in the photo is R-Zilla Compressed Frog MossAmerican toads prefer a drier environment than do most frogs, so I use only ½ to ¾ of the amount of water called for in the instructions when preparing the moss (the moss is packaged dry, and must be reconstituted).  Hagen Exo-Terra Plume Moss and Zoo Med Terrarium Moss are also good choices for toads and other amphibians.

In this terrarium, the substrate is rinsed or spot-cleaned once mid-week and replaced weekly.  As with most amphibian terrariums, I use only hot water to clean, with bleach or table salt added when something stronger is called for.

Water

The terrarium is sprayed once daily with de-chlorinated water.The toads also frequently soak in their water bowl…just bear in mind that they are poor swimmers, so provide an easily-exited container for their pool.

Terrarium Decorations

I set up the terrarium in manner that encourages easy visibility and feeding- time interactions.  This is not always possible with amphibian pets, of course, as secretive species will languish and die if unable to hide.  American toads take to it readily however, and so observations, feeding and cleaning are much simplified.  In this terrarium the toads have become quite tame – noticing when I enter the room hopping forward in anticipation of a meal.

I provide a Zoo Med Turtle Hut or a Cork Bark Hollow as a retreat, but the toads are more often to be found on top of it, scanning the moss for insects or, it seems, watching the room in general.

Light

The PLA-House Hood Light fits right onto the terrarium’s lid, and is useful for providing additional illumination without excess heat.

In planted terrariums, a Reptisun 2.0 Florescent Bulb will provide sufficient light for plants without exposing the toads to harmful levels of UVB – most amphibians have UVB “filters” in their skin, and actively avoid the sun.

Click: My Animal Collection: How a Herpetologist Keeps American Toads, Bufo (Anaxyrus) americanus and Related Species, Part II to read the rest of this article.

 

376 comments

  1. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I am very very concerned – Earl shed 12/10, 12/15 – and he is again now shedding again. We are on a series of 5 day intervals – he wasnt as active today, but not sluggish either, he ate very well yesterday – this seems extremely odd.

    Kelly

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly

      Unfortunately there’s not much I can add to what we’ve discussed…almost no info available on normal shed cycles, even of closely studied species. If the animal is feeding well, consuming shed and all then there is really no way to know whether or not there is a problem. I get the prof herp journals and will keep an eye out…sooner or later someone will get a grant to study such things, although perhaps not in this economy (then again, National Zoo just received a 4-5 million dollar donation to assist a single pair of Giant Pandas to produce another cub (not sure what there problem is, but….)

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  2. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Thanks so very very much, I sincerely appreciate your keeping an eye out for me – I found this publication and article today – from University of Copenhagen, Denmark – helps ease my mind a bit, and thought I would share it with you also and see your thoughts.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/qr04470022j7723m/

    Thank you,
    Kelly

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly,

      Thanks…as you can see, it’s a very complex process. Things often go wrong with captive insects and spiders unless conditions are perfect, but amphibians usually do fine.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Hope you had a great holiday!!!!!

    Question on Earl and his shedding – he has been doing it every 5 days, and sometimes I will see some hanging on his back leg etc – poor fellow, only having one back leg and all. He use to get it off better – or at least until December, I never noticed this before.

    But it looks like he might have some on the tip of his toes on the front leg that is on the same side he is missing the back leg – usually I put him in his swimming pool, let him soak and then lightly use a q-tip to help remove skin he cant reach.

    I was thinking about trying to help his tip toes after work today, I know I need be very gentle – the tip toes are darker than the tip toes on his other foot so fairly sure this is skin that hasnt removed – any tips or suggestions for me?

    Thanks so much
    Kelly

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly

      Thanks, best to you and yours as well.

      You can use a few drops of olive oil to loosen the skin; if you still have difficulty, you might give Shed Ease a try.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  4. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Thanks so much I didnt know they made products like this!

    I also checked out the one food supplier you provided me – what is a butterworm – is it a worm, mealworm, catipillar – I have never heard of these – what the site says below is very encouraging – are these ok for toads, and are they high in chitlin or something I shouldnt feed regularly to them?

    BUTTERWORMS ARE NUTRITIOUS, EASY CARE (STORE THE REFRIGERATOR, NO FEEDINGS REQUIRED!); THEY ALSO MAKE GREAT FISHING BAIT!!
    Butterworms average about 3/4″ to 1″ (vary in length from 1/2″ to 1-1/4″), are similar to a caterpillar, but are fatter and smooth to touch, like Waxworms.

    **The Calcium content is twice that of any other feeder insect

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Butterworms are caterpillars, the larvae of a moth from Chile and elsewhere in SA. You can refrigerate or keep in wheat bran at room temp, with some apple or carrot for moisture. You can use regularly, i.e. 1-2x week; no problems have been reported, no warnings re chitin or such.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  5. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I got both the Zilla Shed Ease and saw their Humidifying Spray Tropical Mist and got it also.

    On the Shed Ease – I wasnt aware it was a bath – I have apparently traumatized him regarding baths and his shedding – he will not stay in there; I do try and block his escape – but I usually just let him leave so I dont stress him to heavily.

    What do you think about the Humidifying Spray Tropical Mist – I know it is more for tropical species of toads – I dont think I would use it everyday or in his cage as they recommend since he is not tropcial, but it has many of the same ingrediants as the Shed Ease, and if I can apply it directly – it might work better for us both – of course, if you are also comfortable with my using this product (states ingrediants in order as – Aloe vera, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B3, Emollient (which I hope is glycerol but company is closed today), and then lastly water. Says it will moisturize and help reduce shedding problems.

    Thanks so very much again – Happy New Year to you also,
    Kelly Dorr

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly,

      Sorry, I may not have been clear. When you mentioned helping to physically remove the skin, I had in mind to use olive oil or shed ease to assist in that…a few drops put on as you worked the old skin off. I don’t think there’s any to use the misting spray on a regular basis, as it’s likely more of a physical problem…lack of other leg to assist in pushing off the skin.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  6. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Thanks again – his skin still appears whitish and over more of his body area than before; he feeds normally – even chases his food around; but I was thinking maybe that spray – if you felt ok, might help him with what we think is dry skin – to moisten it or add moisture – then he might be able to better shed his skin – like he use to before I turned on the heat in the house – three legs and all; he use to be able to remove all his skin himself prior to my turning on the heat; I did get a humidifier and see that the house is reading at only 23 humidity level – that was a challenge – finding one that is cool mist and does not use a filter – I had one before, but the filter and the antimicrobial agent in it smelled something horrible.

    I have just started using the new humidifier today – but still curious if that spray may help moisten his skin so not so dry and so that he may be able to again fully remove all of it himself.

    Thanks!
    Kelly Dorr

  7. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    No problem – it is by Zilla too – states moreso for tropical frogs, toads, etc – ingrediants in order are Aloe vera, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B3, Emollient and water – not sure what the emollient is called Zilla last Friday but they were closed for holiday and again today also. I can even dilute this more with water and or not use everday either – whatever you feel is best.

    http://www.thatpetplace.com/pet/group/458/product.web

    Thanks again,
    Kelly

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly,

      Thanks for the feedback; we don’t really know the effect of using such a spray daily, long term, or how/if it should be diluted. I would rely upon misting with water, and use shed aids during shed, or perhaps a day or so before if you continue to see a distinct shed cycle.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  8. avatar

    Hi Frank

    Thanks again! Sometimes he looks like he has a waxy sheen along with the white areas – is this vitamin A toxicity maybe?

    Kelly

  9. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I am thinking Earl has a fungus and not dry skin – all my toads are caged separately, but treated the same regarding substrate and cleaning practices – only difference I can think of is right before this shedding started and I did buy Earl a new waterbowl = only difference in the three.

    How is fungus treated?

    Thank you
    Kelly

  10. avatar

    Hi Frank ,

    In addition to the fungus treatment request above, I did just read in one of my many frog and toad books, that sometimes for frogs with fungus infections, that they found the use of chlorinated water to be helpful too – although I treat my water with remover, I did still buy water (aquatic) test strips and still test it. Glad I do this, as once the strip advised me I did forget to put the dechlorinator in one of the three jugs = but I do know that my tap water when tested reads at the lowest level of chlorine noted on the test strip, will chlorinated water perhaps treat his condition (short soaks) and maybe less risky a treatment option?

    Thanks again
    Kelly

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly

      It’s somewhat of a balancing act…many old time herp keepers mentioned chlorine, and it makes sense, but I’m not sure if actually proven. Some exposure is fine, but how much/how often is unknown; some luck had been had with refrigeration as well, for leopard frogs, but again extrapolating to toads, without a definite diagnosis by a vet, would be mainly guesswork. It would do no harm to fill water bowl with chlorinated water on alternate days, if you wish to experiment.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  11. avatar

    Thank you Frank,

    Are there any fish fungal treatments that have been successfully used on toads, since they also are very sensitive to their environments – or are you saying, perhaps ok to try chlorine and if no improvement seen -locate and see a vet before trying anything else?

    Thanks so much,
    Kelly

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly

      Sorry if I wasn’t clear. A vet visit is always preferable; I thought you had mentioned that you were in touch with an experienced amphibian vet at one point…

      Methylene Blue has been used with some success, but is still considered experimental.

      Chlorinated water left in the bowl on alternate days will do no harm, but there are no specifics as to its value as a treatment. Again, fungal infections are not easy to diagnose, and the species present may affect drug choice.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  12. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Talked to my vet office = my toadie tech comes in at 6pm tonight – going to see if there is a scrape/petri dish option where I can collect the specimen for them – versus my car porting this poor fellow for over an hour each way to get there and back, let alone the stress and time involved with the actual doctor visit itself.

    Then if so, while I wait for culture growth and review, I will start the chlorinated water option as well – and if confirmed fungus, I hope perhaps I will be lucky enough to see profound improvement with the chlorine option treatment alone – since short term – a much less riskier option to his life.

    Thought though – I squirt their dirt everday and mix it by hand, looking for stool and to also ensure the soil is moist – would it be beneficial and not harmful to them – if I used chlorinated water when doing this. Currently I do not, but thinking maybe the chlorinated water will help control bacteria, mold, fungi in the dirt – maybe a little. And it would be moist dirt not liquid theyd be in – so I think theyd have little absorption if none, in moistened chlorinated watered dirt – for the short time each day it would even be moist and in the dirt.

    Challenging for sure – but they are so very much worth it all and more!

    Thanks so very much again!
    Kelly

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly

      Chlorine dissipates within 24 hrs in the open, so you can spray; no chance of build-up.

      You’ll need to bring the toad in, as fecal tests will only reveal systemic infections, parasites, but not fungi that is limited to the skin. A vet would not likely advise you to scrape the area yourself.

      Transport the toad in an old pillow case with damp taper towels or moss; in hard containers, they will rub along the sides in an attempt to escape.

      Hope all goes well, Frank Indiviglio.

  13. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I never know when/if my city will increase and or decrease the water chlorine amount, I did test it yesterday with my Tetra Aquarium 6-in1 test strips, and my chlorine level read either 1.0 to maybe 2.0 ppm-mg/L.

    Hoping that is not too strong for a toad – I thought I had read that long term low exposure in toad contributes to kidney failure – which wouldnt happen in this case; but is that the only threat to Toads from chlorine?

    Thanks,
    Kelly

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly,

      Additives vary among water authorities and in accordance with human health concerns, etc. There really are no standards re amphibians. In addition to chlorine, chloramines are normally added, along with other chemicals. All are designed to kill micro-organisms, and are absorbed through amphibs skin. Standard practice in zoos is to remove chlorine; I know from experience that the protocol we discussed can be used safely for awhile, if you wish to experiment. Best option is vet care. Keep in mind that any treatment prescribed by vet will have side effects; as with us, it’s a matter of weighing risks. Many amphibs are lost during treatment, which is why it is best to have the problem evaluated to be sure that medication is actually required.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  14. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I had an appt with a reptile vet closer to where I live (Earl stayed home, he shed that am – and it was a meet and greet visit for me). I took photos of him and some shed skin.

    He has only seen a couple frogs and not much experience with amphibs – but he does have access to an exotic pet lab and he did call and confirm that they do have enough data on American Toads to know what bacteria and levels and such are considered normal.

    The expert at the lab had some good suggestions – she thought perhaps my water is too hard and that I might be seeing mineral deposits on him – per my water test strips I do have the hardest water indication they read. Perhaps possible, since he is disabled and has more difficulty than the others due to such, and perhaps why such might be an issue for him and not the others.

    I did get some Aquafina purified water – only one I saw that stated they do not enhance it with additives for flavor – I just got their water report off their website and called and confirmed they do not have additives either. It tested the exact opposite of my water – softest reading on the strip and although purified, and no chlorine, I am still adding water conditioner to it.

    He is still eating great, active alert – this is very perplexing. Going to try softer water for him, and I may reach point where I also use a water conditioner that has a slime coating (currently I do not) – we spoke earlier and I got the one you stated you use – Stress Coat.

    I do have an appt with a different reptile vet this Wednesday, recommended by a friend with tortoises who said he also worked with the St. Louis Zoo – at this point – Id like to do a test to know what I am dealing with – if health concern or not, and then take it from there, knowing the huge risks involved.

    Thanks again for everything. QUESTION for the day (in addition to any feed back on above you may have) – Worms for my toads, still hard to find – a petstore here has what they call Red Wigglers (Big Reds) and also called Angel Worms – (so many names for one worm) – are Red Wigglers ok for American Toads – I saw a posting a while back by someone on the internet who said they fed their American Toad a Red Wiggler and it died – who knows all the specifics – where it was collected, size, etc – but is the species generally ok for toads or perhaps not?

    Thanks,
    Kelly

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly,

      The idea re hard water is an excellent one; with few exceptions, amphibians always fare better in soft water. If you trust the company, best not to add chlor-out type products. Be sure not to use distilled water, as it leaches minerals/salts from the body.

      Appetite is almost always affected quickly when there is a serious problem, so it’s a good sign that the toad is feeding.

      Red wigglers are fine, used by all zoos for decades. Worm collection/farming is not strictly controlled; there are always risks with any invertebrate re parasite transmission, different species being sent, etc. Unless you know where to look and how to filter, best to avoid looking into people’s experiences with foods etc. – some good info on the net, but sorting though it is brutal, lots of nonsense, etc.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  15. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Thanks again as always – my test strip advised no chlorine found in the aquafina, chloramines is not a separate test on my strip – not sure if they would read under the chlorine part of it. Their water analysis report indicated None Detected at or above the Min Reporting Level set by the EPA for chloramine, chlorine and chlorine dioxide – think I might still treat for the chloramine aspect or not? Sorry I dont know much about water and all these chemicals and multiple purification processes~

    Also the other difference in this water other than it being the softest reading on the strip, is that it is also the exact opposite of mine for PH in that it is the strongest acidic reading and my water read the highest alkaline reading. I forgot to tell you that earlier – wish I knew more about water – but am learning about it thanks to my toadies.

    I spoke to the St. Louis Zoo again today and learned they have their own water treatment operation and processes and create and use their own supply of water for their amphibians. They did suggest that I consider adding moss to his environment – as it too will retain moisture but they stated it can be slightly coarse in nature (not rough) – but that if he burrows in the moss as their american toad does, it may help exfoliate some of the skin that remains after his shed.

    Internet being brutal and non-sense – yes, again today I just saw my second internet advisment stating American Toads can be fed minnows and it also recommended pinkie mice – I am so thankful for this site, your expertise and That Pet Place – Id be lost without this resource and my friends health otherwise without it – well I just dont like to think about that.

    Thank you
    Kelly

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly,

      Thanks for the kind words. Acidic water is not a good option…some toad populations have adapted, but in general best not to use anything over 7.5 pH. Many zoos use Reverse Osmosis systems. St. Louis had done some great amphibs work, just became first to breed hellbenders; you can rely on anything they tell you.

      If water is un-chlorinated, chloramines would not likely be present. Used in NYC, but not nearly as common as chlorine elsewhere.

      Deer Park Water was useful in past; not sure if their source has changed since.

      Sphagnum moss would be a

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  16. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I doubt you remember our previous correspondence about the American Toad I took in after he/she decided to hibernate in my outdoor planter. That was in October 2009, and the toad (we call him Little Toad) has been with us now for more more than two years. I incorporated all your suggestions in setting up his tank, etc., and it has been such a pleasure to watch him.

    I have followed your exchanges with Kelly with interest, of course. Now I have a question regarding the latest ones about water. I don’t test the water we use for the toad’s soaking bowl and spraying, but I do use bottled spring water (from various sources, often the store brand, but also Poland Springs, Deer Park, etc. The current bottle is distributed by Key Foods, and the water comes from Fox Ledge Springs in Pennsylvania.) I don’t use purified water, which the labels of at least some bottlers say contains calcium chloride and sodium bicarbonate. (Aquafina purified water, I now see, does not contain this.) Is there a reason to be concerned that bottled spring water has chlorine in it? I thought that spring water did not contain chlorine, which is why I have been using it. I do use a dechlorinator in the tap water I use to wash and hydrate the sphagnum moss, but have stuck to bottled spring water for the toad’s soaking bowl and spray bottle. Thanks much for answering this question.

    Best always,
    Maru

    • avatar

      Hello Mary,

      Nice to hear from you again; I recall clearly…although, as with most things, I cannot believe it was over 2 years ago! Congrats on your success and thanks for the kind words.

      Spring water, esp. from known companies, does not contain chlorine; we used Deer Park and Poland at the Bx Zoo; “purified” varies.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  17. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Think I know what is wrong with Earl – thanks to your prior link to another subscriber regarding supplement/Vitamin A.

    I have noticed that about once every week and half, Earls aim seems off – my book tells me that ‘bad aim’ could be linked to Vit A deficiency. He did this last night too – not every time, not really that often – but on occassion.

    That – with the skin problems leads me to think Vit A def – and I just saw that my supplement has no preformed vit A, but only beta carotene – never thought about it before – makes sense to me that an animal that eats insects only most likely would not digest beta carotene (plant derived) well. – Duh on my part.

    So I called the STL Zoo, they use Repashy – they use separate calcium/d3 and vitamin products – not one combined. Repashy has both preformed Vit A (retinol) along with some beta carotene for better all alround coverage and absorptions. STL Zoo stated that for VitD3 – the amounts they use varies by the Toad age – older animals getting the Repashy product with lower VitD3 content – and younger specimens getting the product with a higher Vit D3 ratio.

    So with that – at my Toad Doc appt tonight – taking what I have been using, new products Reptivite and Repto Cal – along with data on products from Repashy and info from the staff at STL Zoo – to discuss how I hope, I pray I might be able to stop the symptoms I see in Earl now with hopefully a veterinarian recommended VitA supp alone treatment and to also help my other fellows by providing them more proper doses of VitA before they show any symptoms of being too low.

    Thanks
    Kelly

  18. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Below is a link on one vendor that sells Repashy – as on a couple of sights – they didnt sell all four of the available D3 stengths nor have data on them all for me to compare them to one another.

    They have No VD, LoD, MeD and HyD – this site though, has all the ingrediants and levels for each of the 4 strenghts – and their recommended usage – including the HyD for animals that they state it may even be beneficial for if used during early stages of MBD.

    http://www.pangeareptile.com/store/supercal.html

    Definately an intersting product/company. I am also looking into their Supervite product – which the STL Zoo likes and uses also. It can be found under search on the same site above – this site also has a little more info regarding this product also, that the other site doesnt include – toghether with the 2 sites, I am getting the data I need on it!!!

    http://www.alphaprobreeders.com/products/Repashy-SuperVite–.html

    I will let you know how the visit went and what Dr. Wentzi advises!

    Thanks again –
    Kelly

  19. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Last night, Earl ate a cricket – got it on the first try; tongue extended far.,

    I saw the Dr. and he felt the bad aim or short tongue syndrome could be a calcium deficiency or, perhaps a tongue sprain – that he has seen in amphibians and chameleons on occassion.

    He prefers the Rep Cal reptevite that I have been using and is comfortable that it contains only beta carotene and no preformed Vitamin A.

    I am still thinking about the Repashy Supervite which does contained both preformed Vit A and beta carotene.

    He thought it could be either dry skin or a possible fungul infection – he gave me some antibiodic – Baytril – 3.0ml to mix with a quart of water, and to mist him directly 2x a day for 7 to 10 days. Said if dry skin and not fungul, the antibiodic wouldnt hurt him.

    I do remember your saying and also my reading in several articles that treament is extremely tricky – do you have any experience with toads and baytril?

    I also found out there is a frog/toad breeder in my area who has been doing so for 20 plus years. (Dart frogs, horned frogs) – I have his info and am thinking about calling him also.

    Thanks so very much,
    Kelly

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly,

      Thanks for the update. Baytril has long been a standard antibiotic for use with amphibians, especially where the exact nature of the problem is unknown. Used extensively in zoos and private practice.

      As you can see, there are many uncertainties. Millions of dollars have been poured into battling the Chytrid fungus that has been decimating amphibs populations worldwide over the past decade or so, yet we are still far from understanding the nature of the problem.

      I hope all goes well,

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  20. avatar

    Hi Frank
    And thanks, so far on my review of the internet – only RAVE reviews regarding Baytril have been found – none negative (I wrote you prior to do that research – wasnt sure what I might find, just never know)

    And – when speaking to the STL Zoo, I unfortunately learned the Chytrid fungus has been found in STL waters; wish it never existed; makes my heart sink.

    Thank you again
    Kelly

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly,

      Thanks; not to dampen the mood, but please keep in mind that there are all sorts of problems associated with any medication…look what happens in human medicine, where so much more is known. I’ve seen toads survive being locked within a concrete wall for 8 years, while others kept in multi-million dollar facilities fail to thrive…. But you’re doing all that can be done.

      Chytrid is turning up everywhere, but we don’t really understand the implications. It may turn out to be like salmonella in herps or aspergillosis in birds – always present, but only problematical in certain circumstances. With amphibs declines, far more than just the fungus is likely involved – depressed immune systems due to other factors (pollution, acid rain, etc.), the loss of other micro-organisms, change in quality of food items, and so on. But each new bit of info helps.

      Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  21. avatar

    Hello: I have an American toad and have a few questions. Currently, I am housing it in a 20 gallon tank with 3-4 inches of soil from its natural habitat plus logs, bark, stones and some branches. It was just moved indoors from my garage to my house. Current temp is 20 C. It appears to have a normal demenor as he’s out and about at nite but I have not seen it eat in a few weeks now. I placed 4-5 crickets in the tank and upon checking the next day or so they haven’t been caught. I even place the crickets directly in front of it but he doesn’t appear to be interested. Do I have any reason for concern? Also, how often should I change the substrate? Will it disturb him in any way if I do? He appears to be pretty comfortable as he’s burrowed in many areas and made the environment his own. I am thinking of replacing it with Eco earth, moss and live plants. Any suggestions or thoughts?

    • avatar

      Hi Simon,

      20 C is a safe temperature, but American toads sometimes slow down their feeding as autumn progresses, even if kept warm. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell if this is what’s going on, or if an intestinal blockage or other problem is involved (a blockage, via substrate or undigested food, can be seen on x-ray); However, if the toad were sick,, he’d likely not be digging and behaving normally.

      Please be sure to vary the diet; crickets alone are not sufficient long-term; earthworms can be used as a staple; please let me know if you need more info on this. new food items often spark interest as well..nutrient needs seem to drive amphibs to seek out a variety of foods.

      Hard to provide guidelines on cleaning, as each situation different. Most toads tend to defecate in water bowls, and so removing just the surface layer of the soil once each 7-10 days suffices. Any change is stressful, but necessary for health as ammonia will build up. Natural soil is fine, but always a chance of a blockage with any substrate. Sphagnum moss works well, seems harder to swallow and s easy to rinse once-twice, then replace, Live plants very useful. Pothos will grow in damp moss, can be lifted out and put back during cleaning. Us a zoo med 2.0 or similar – enough light for plants, and with low UVB (too much may be detrimental to toad – eye probs suspected).

      Please keep me posted, let me know if you need more info, enjoy, Frank

  22. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Wow..thanks for the quick and detailed response.

    If he’s slowed his eating because of the season, can you advise then how often I should feed him then? Should I attempt every few days? Can I house earthworms in the dirt and allow him to search for it or do I need to dangle? And are mealworms a good alternative? How would I house them and feed them? Do I place in a dish or in the tank is fine?

    Thanks!

    Simon

    • avatar

      Hi Simon,

      Glad the info was useful. Yes, try every few days; no hard/fast rules, some feed once weekly, others at almost regular frequency.

      Please see here for more suggested food items, and note the info concerning supplements. If you can induce him to feed from a tong, the canned insects mentioned in the article are a good way to provide variety.

      Earthworms will burrow out of reach if left in the terrarium. Try a dish, or tongs, or perhaps move the toad into a bare-bottomed bucket at feeding time (some are stressed by this, others not). You can also keep toads on moist paper towels or washable terrarium liners. As long as you provide a cave to hide in, he’ll do fine w/o substrate; this simplifies cleaning and feeding; I enjoy planted terrariums, but they are more work to maintain properly. You can easily raise earthworms, and nutrient load them, as described here..

      Avoid mealworms; linked to intestinal blockages and not very nutritious. Newly molted (white in color) grubs are okay, but you’ll need to set up a colony; info is here, but not really worthwhile.

      Please keep me posted, best, Frank

  23. avatar

    Hi Frank..thanks for your advice.
    I’ve dropped a few crickets in and check every so often if they’ve been eaten. Should I remove them if he’s not eating them or leave them? And with cold weather, there aren’t many bugs out to catch. I’ll try to use a tong and i’ll let you know how it goes.
    Just purchased the moss as you suggested and i’ve placed it around the logs he hides under and he seems to be liking it. He just shed this morning. Is this normal or is the humidity too high. I’ve heard toads shed 3 or 4 times a year when fully grown and more often if younger but then i’ve heard it could be due to the humidity? He also ate his skin. Is this considered nutirents and wait a few days to feed him his regular meals?

    • avatar

      Hi Simon,

      My pleasure…

      Internet insect dealers should be able to supply silkworms, sow bugs (a great food; pl see this article, butterworms, earthworms and others; pl let me know if you need assistance with that.

      Remove uneaten crickets, as they may bite cold or lethargic amphibians if left in too long w/o food. Best, to use 1/2 grown crickets, even for adult toads.

      Humidity will not affect shedding, unless it is so dry that the animal has difficulty. There really are no hard-fast rules as to frequency; depends on age, diet, season, time of year, food volume, etc. Animals with skin infections or parasites may go through rapid shed cycles, one after another, but otherwise no need to monitor shedding.

      It is a good sign that the toad is eating the skin; it does have nutrients that are beneficial to the animal.

      Pl keep me posted, enjoy, Frank

  24. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Some good news. My toad now has returned to a hearty appetite. What is the proper number of small crickets should I feed and how often? He can eat up to 6-8 small crickets/day. I have him in a 29 gallon, so he gets some good exercise from hunting them down. He use to hid under a log, bark and/moss throughout the day but recently he’s just been sitting out in the open or half burrowed(not under anything). Should I be concerned or is this a good sign that he’s comfortable with me now? I don’t handle him at all. I only reach in to clean the terranium, change the water and/or feed him.

    Thanks,
    Simon

    • avatar

      Hi Simon,

      Good to hear, thanks for the update.

      Food intake is influenced by temperature, age and many other factors. However, toads seem able to modify their metabolisms to suit food availability as long as they are fed within reason. Being in a large tank is great…you can feed several for a day or 2, then skip a day or 2 (fast days are useful to include). Try establishing a sowbug colony in the terrarium,…the toad will be kept busy, and they will scavange feces etc.

      A more important consideration is dietary variety…crickets alone are not suitable, even if supplements are used (the toad will grow, behave normally, etc. but will suffer nutritional deficiencies in time) Be sure to feed them well, and to powder with supplements, during times when other foods are scarce. Earthworms are the best food to use in large quantities, as a staple. Please see this article and let me know if you need further info.

      Sitting out is likely as you suspect…adjusting, becoming bolder.

      Best, Frank

  25. avatar

    Frank,

    I have always loved toads and am hoping to keep some Woodhouse’s and American toads someday. I was wondering if there are any other toad species you could mix together in the same terrarium.

    Thanks!
    ~Lotus

    • avatar

      Hi Lotus,

      Woodhouse’s and Americans do fine together, and have interbred in the wild where their ranges overlap. Many other NA species that are adaptable to a wide range of habitats will get along in mixed exhibits; examples are Southern Toads, Great Plains Toads and Western Toads. Habitat specialists, such as Red-Spotted toads and Colorado River Toads require different conditions than others, and so are best kept alone. Oak Toads, due to their small size, may be out-copeted for food by larger species. the same guidelines can be used for toads from other countries.

      With closely related species, there’s always a chance that a micro-organism that is relatively benign in one may be deadly to another, but other than that the main concern is the type of habitat and diet they will need. Please let me know how all goes, enjoy, Frank

  26. avatar

    Well Hello Frank!

    Long time no talk – all my fault. Ive had 3 new additions to my family – 3 pug puppies – now a year old – 2 are brothers and the 3rd only 2 weeks older than them – Ive not really slept an entire night for about a year now – lots of work, but tons more fun!

    Little toad Earl did pass away about 13 months ago; I tried my best as did the Vet but we couldnt save him and with him only having 3 legs and all, we cant really be sure of his overall health when he joined my family, but he will always be missed and had a wonderful worry free life for the short time he was with me.

    Big toad Buddy and baby toad Toadie are both doing great though! They have been with me about a year and a half now. I have changed their substrate type (several times) – and after I saw Buddy eat about a 3 inch piece of moss – that was on his leg when he was eating a worm from a food tray so he used his hands to gobble it down OMGosh, I have since switched to Zoo Med eco earth. I have been using it for about 8 months now. But I dont pour it directly from the bag – I sift it using a strainer and remove the long coconut hairs and coconut chunks from it – so what I place in their home is closer to the texture and size of the finely sifted soil I use to use. Also, I noticed that during sifting, I guess from the manufacturing processes for it, I also removed a substantial amount of plastic bag type pieces that are in it – so far every single bag I have purchased has had plastic in it.

    Toadie did get the white rash on him also, just like toad Earl, but we were able to save him fortunately with baytril treatment – and I havent encountered an issue like that again since I changed substrate.

    But they are doing great! I know their shedding cylces; Buddy at 10-15 days and Toadie at 6-8 days. Had a couple of difficult sheds with them both, but only one time a piece so not bad at all; and for a while I was force bathing Toadie. It wasnt hard as after I put him in his pool, he then decided that felt great and stayed their for me – sometimes for hours – so not really sure if I could really call it forced bathing, rather than hey dont youd think you might like too swim, been about 3 days – and he always agreed!

    I still keep them in separate tanks, only as they have had their own living space for a year and a half, but also as Toadie is substantially smaller than Buddy – and once I did see Buddy threaten Toadie (via body posture) when they were each at the edge of their tank facing each other (Toadie of course moved away to the opposite side of his tank, behind his cave, digging down with only his head poking out to see around)

    My roly poly project did work great and you are so very right, I had no idea the babies were about the size of clover mites – OMGosh are they tiny. They have stopped reproducing – and I am going to create a couple new habitats and start again – and I have found one company that sells them – captive bred not wild caught, so I can have confidence they havent been exposed to chemicals (as might be the case if collected from the wild).

    Glad to see your site is still open and working, thanks for all the wonderful help you have given to me – and that you continue giving to others.

    I hope to stay in contact much better this year!

    • avatar

      Hi Kelly,

      Thanks fro the update and glad to hear the dogs and 2 toads are doing fine. Great to have such accurate info on their shedding cycles…it’s not something that has been recorded in any detail as far as I know. Commercial sowbugs arw a good idea..several species available. Stopping repro after a time is common…probably something missing from the diet, plus they live much longer in captivity than wild. I’ll pass along the info re plastics to the manufacturer, I have a contact there I believe.

      Good luck, enjoy, Frank

  27. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I have a new addition, another toad. I have potted plants buried in my landscaping mulch, and when watering Saturday, I noticed movement – an extremely small young toad I almost drowned.

    He could probably sit on a quarter – and I have purchased some flightless fruit flies and very small crickets. He is extremely active – and I have concern with his activity level and fact he is growing probably quite fast – I am unsure how much food he requires.

    For my larger toads, I have all this figured out. Is it true that he will only eat what he needs, so if I include more than he needs, do I need not worry about him overeating, kind of like what a dog would do if large amounts of food are available? Also are my food choices for him limited to only these two items? I did find some mini mealworms that are quite small – never used them before. I could feed to him and the larger toads, maybe one or two a week at most – but I have also heard their mouths are quite powerful and they can pack a pretty nasty bite, so that as well as being harder to digest both concern me. I have the smallest earthworms I can find to feed my toads, but I also fear these are still too large for this little fellow.

    And I am gut loading and dusting all his food every meal, since he is so young.

    Thanks so much again.

    • avatar

      Hi kelly,

      They are primed to eat continually, but can also adjust growth to food availability; no need to worry about overfeeding; best to avoid mealworms..biting factor is overblown on the internet, but they are hard to digest and low in impt nutrients. Tiny insects gathered by sweeping a net through tall grass are an ideal food…leafhoppers, moths, some ants, smooth caterpillars, etc…avoid biting stinging insects, spiders. Can also break earthworms into small pieces; You can find other ideas here.. Best, Frank

  28. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Sorry one more thing I almost forgot.

    I saw a new food item at the store I dont know much about, never heard of them before – and the store associates I spoke too didnt seem to know much about them either, so I am not sure if new or not.

    They are called calciworms – and are suppose to be extremely high in calcium. I have never heard or seen about these before – not sure if they have too much calcium or if ok or still need coating with supplement or not.

    Are you familiar with these and can you advise regarding them and their use?

    Thanks again!

    • avatar

      Hi Kelly,

      CalciWomrs are the larvae of black soldier flies, and an excellent food for most herps. We don’t really know much about exact CA requirements…I would use powder on these as well, at least for young toads that are growing rapidly. You can read more about Calciworms here; pl let me know if you need anything, best, Frank

  29. avatar

    Hi Frank

    Thanks again for your wisdom. I found some other possible alternatives and wondering your thoughts and experiences if any with them.

    How about springtails; and;

    Rice Flour Beetle larvae; (http://www.joshsfrogs.com/catalog/blog/2012/11/confused-rice-flour-beetle-culturing/) – not sure if their possible biting capabilities, like some concern Ive seen for mealworms and young amphibians.

    Thanks again!

    • avatar

      Hi Kelly,

      I’m sure other readers are enjoying your posts, thanks. Rice Beetle larvae are a good choice, no safety concerns; same with the related beetles that are sometimes found in old boxes of dog bisquits, etc. Springtails used in zoos for poison frogs, etc…good food, but they are very tiny, may take a great many to satisfy even a small toad, best, Frank

  30. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Dusting of the fruit flies is proving challenging. They dust well, but crawl around the enclosure before eaten sometimes perhaps a day, and by this time the dusting is no longer on them – the young toad is not comfortable yet eating in front of me like the others.

    I purchased some calcium spray by Zilla – my only concern is it doesnt have Vitamin D3 also. I thought perhaps Id have better luck spraying the flies versus dusting them – but not sure now if this product since lacking VD3 is the best choice for such a small toad (3/4 inch long). If I should spray and coat them also, spray only – or try only to utilize a product containing both VD3 with calcium – want to do what is best for him.

    I use Reptivite also, but I also purchased Zillas Spray Vitamin also, if feeding fruit flies vs crickets when it is time for this supplement type – what are your thoughts on this product also?

    Thanks for your help.

  31. avatar

    Hello Frank,

    I came across your site when researching the care of toads. My 11 year son has found a toad that he would like to keep. I was hesitant at first but once starting my research I decided I would let him have a try at this. I have narrowed the type down an American or Fowlers Toad based on pictures and info on the net. This one is approximately 1- 1 1/2 inches now. I have an aquarium that we used for goldfish before. It is a 10 gallon that I plan on cleaning with just warm soapy water. We plan on setting it up as most sites have said. Water bowl, substrate of decorative stones that I use for my houseplants (none anywhere near small enough for the toad to ingest) along with some potting soil that is not fertilized. I also plan on taking all the kids out to find other items from our yard and around the rivers here to put in there like smaller tree limbs for climbing, a hiding spot of some kind, and of course food. I was wondering if there is start up info you can give us for this. I read that any items I get from outdoors I should wash and then freeze for 48 hours to kill off any contaminates. Thanks for any info you can give to us newbies. As for right now the toad is being kept in a plastic container with ventilation holes and some dirt till we can get the tank set up this evening.
    Thanks Michelle K.

    • avatar

      Hi Michele,

      Best to clean with hot water and a few drops of bleach. soaps may leave a residue, amphib skin very sensitive. Stones not ideal…they swallow surprisingly large ones, plus not good for skin to be sitting on gravel. Potting soil fine…cover with dead leaves..retains moisture, toad will hide below, and are not swallowed…soil may be ingested…happens in wild but things change in captivity, may be hard to pass. Use dechlorinated water in bowl, and 2 spray tank daily. You can order if easier; or simply let tap stand for 24 hrs in open container, or use bottled spring water (not distilled). No need for climbing type decorations…ease of cleaning is main concern. A crockery flower pot or similar can serve as a cave, but it may just bury beneath leaves. Wild caught insects from areas unsprayed by pesticides an ideal diet, but you’ll need to plan for winter (earthworms easy to keep alive/breed). Earthworms best as staple, also add moths, field crickets, most beetles, harvestmen (daddy longlegs), smooth caterpillars, sow/potato bugs , earwigs. Avoid brightly colored (poss.toxic) insects, lightening bugs, spiders. No need to freeze leaves, dead wood etc. Parasite transmission not likely in that way.

      Sphagnum moss a great substrate if you want to do away with leaves, earth; can be rinsed once/twice then discarded. Garden supply stores may carry, or can be ordered.

      Wild caught amphibs likely carry Salmonella bacteria as normal part of gut flora. Please see article below for safety measures. other articles on toad diet in general are linked.

      http://bit.ly/XwuHtW

      http://bit.ly/eyRJ2E

      http://bit.ly/asjzz2

      Please let me know if you need more info, enjoy, Frank

  32. avatar

    Thanks so much for the feedback. Things are going well with our plans. Unfortunately a storm came through the evening that I wrote you and the container my son had his toad in was knocked over and the toad returned to the great outdoors. We have decided to allow him to catch another if he wants and are prepping the tank before then and then planning the capture of another. He is still very excited. Thanks again for the info, it was very helpful.

  33. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Wondering if you can provide insight and or thoughts on the below please:)

    1. New Toad, little guy been here since 7/6/13 – in his own home (as he is new and as his food and water bowl size needs are rather quite small compared to others) – he also has his own eating utensils also. But when cleaning everyone’s home this weekend – Chrytid Fungus ran through my mind. If he did have this – would he have already parished from it by now – and is it possible for him to not suffer from it or show signs of it, but be a carrier of it and possibly infecting my resident established toad friends?
    2. Phoenix Worms – how often a week do you feel it is ok for them to eat them; and are there any known biting concerns for either older or young amphibians?
    3. I saw a posting where someone had stated they lost an entire collection of dart frogs to a fruit fly super bug – it sounded like something the bugs carried or had in their bedding/eating material. As I am new to fruit flies I found the comment very concerning – have you heard of this and any tips on how often I need change out my fruit flies and get new? Sorry these bugs are new to me.
    4. Flour Beetles – going to feed the larve to my youngster. But wondering about the adults. I will need cull them periodically so they dont overwhelm their enclosure. But I heard they have some kind of chemical in them where only some herps may eat them. I was wondering if they are poisonous or if possibly can be fed to my older toads and what quantity if so.
    5. Flour beetle larvea – what frequency of feeding of these do you recommend for the little fellow – new guy only about one inch long.

    Thanks again Frank!

    • avatar

      Hi kelly,

      I wouldn’t worry about Chytrid; unlikely, and is quickly fatal in most native species.

      Phoenix worms are a good Calcium source; I’ve not run across biting concerns; can use as regular part of diet, 1-2 x weekly. Please see this article.

      I’m guessing that the fruit fly problem was speculation…have not seen such at home or in zoos.

      Flour beetle larvae can be used often; beetles are taken by some toads, but larvae are a better source of food. Other frogs eat the beetles w/o incident, but larvae are superior, nutritionally, so best to stay with them.

      Enjoy, Best, Frank

  34. avatar

    Hi Frank

    In one of my toad’s stool I found a complete phoenix worm – it came out looking just as it did when I put it in the tray for him to eat. Is there any nutritional value at all if this occurs?

    Thank you
    Kelly

  35. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I was wondering what is an adequate tank size for an adult toad? I have limited space, and I can do what needs be done – I tried for some of the same size to share a home – but one seemed more stressed, and did not calm down or have a healthy looking weight to them until I separated them. They had an oversized pool and more than plenty of food when fed – but until separated, the one did not seem calmed or appear to have a more healthy weight.

    My space for them now is limited – and I will do what they need as I do want them to have adequate housing and be comfortable – just before I do anything, if even needed, I was curious as to what size housing minimum must at least be provided.

    Oh – I also had a second toad, and I studied his stool yesterday. He had some phoenix worms Friday, and in his stool yesterday – his too came out whole just like the other toad’s did – when this happens is there any nutritional value – or should I just discontinue feeding these – I am concerned both about nutritional value and or possible blockage issues if not digested completely.

    Thank you!

    • avatar

      Hi Kelly,

      The more space the better; a 20 gallon long-style tank would be ideal, but that can make do in a 10-15 gallon. You can try mixing them again..sometimes the dynamics change once one has adjusted to captivity, etc. If you keep them together, use a 20 long and add plenty of substrate and extra caves, hiding spots and other items to break up the floor space. This may help them get along…toads are usually fine in groups.

      Yes, avoid phoenix worms if not being digested, and monitor to make sure there are not any general digestive problems,

      Enjoy and pl keep me posted, Frank

  36. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I have raised two American toads from very young (dime size) with my son. We found them in the spring of 2012 and they have since grown into nice fat toads.

    I have started to worry about one of them however when I watched him trying to eat a wax worm last week. He would open his mouth and lunge but seemed unable to extend his tongue. I have tried several times since and he continues to only open his mouth and lunge but no tongue.

    In the last year I have primarily fed them crickets which I dust on occasion (likely not often enough) with a 1:1 mixture of Herptivite and Rep-cal Calcium w/ Vit D. . I also mix this 1:1 mixture in the food I feed the crickets hoping the toads get some of the vitamins that way as well. Once a week or so I would give them each a couple of waxworms as a treat. I’ve also fed a few red wiggler worms but they get so covered in the coconut husk substrate I have not done so often.

    I have read about short tongue syndrome resulting from a Vit A deficiency and while this does not sound exactly the same (his tongue is not coming out of his mouth) I did get some liquid Vitamin (Flukers) with Vit A and have given him two drops orally a few days ago (difficult) and a drop on his back today.

    Otherwise this toad seems fine. He walk around, baths, and definitely wants to eat. He also shed/ate his skin a few days ago and that seemed to go fine as it has with both of them in the past. The second toad is doing fine and is having no similar tongue problems that I have noticed. Any ideas on what may be the problem? I am considering finding a local vet to have them take a look if it continues.

    Thanks!
    Bill

    • avatar

      Hello Bill,

      What you describe is rather common among captives collected when young; may be related to Vitamin A; calcium can also be involved (important in muscle function, ejecting tongue, etc.). Best to supplement all meals….probably Ok to continue with Vit A treatment, but if the condition deteriorates a vet visit would be your best option; let me know if you need help in locating an experienced vet. Not sure if you saw this article on the syndrome..basic, not too much known, unfortunately, but some progress being made.

      Variety is key to health, especially for youngsters. crickets not ideal for the bulk of the diet, even if powdered. Try adding some of the species mentioned in these articles:
      http://bit.ly/eyRJ2E
      http://bit.ly/asjzz2

      let me know if you need sources for any of the commercially bred species (roaches, silkworms, etc)

      If yo can get them to tong feed, canned silkworms are useful.

      Wild caught insect valuable, sweeping a net in tall grass will yield many useful ones….need to weed out biting/toxic species; let me know if you need more info. Earthworms can form a large part of the diet. Try moving toads into a bare-bottomed container to feed..most adjust to this; or sink a bowl into the substrate for worms. Actually, coco husk is not the best choice as a substrate, although some have used with success. Too easily swallowed. I prefer sphagnum moss , ded leaves and/or any of the mosses mentioned in the article.

      Please let me know if you need anything, Best, frank

  37. avatar

    Hello Frank,

    Thank you for all of the great information. I will definitely work through the changes you recommended.

    You mentioned a basic article about this syndrome but I did not see the link. Did I misread?

    I’ll keep you updated. Hopefully I get this resolved quickly!

    Thanks again,
    Bill

  38. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I wanted to write back with an update. It has taken quite awhile but both of the toads are officially doing well and using their tongues to catch meals again. At first we force-fed a few very well dusted wax worms and I began putting a drop or two of the Fluker’s Liquid Vitamin on each of their backs every few days. I also have added a few inch deep layer of moss to the top of the coco husk and they seem to love it. After adding the Moss I now put them in a small plastic tub for meals as I doubt they would find the crickets in the nice deep moss bed.

    Anyway, earlier this week I put the toad who’s tongue had been malfunctioning in with a few heavily dusted crickets and out came the tongue. I’ve watched him eat about 10 crickets over the last week and everything is going well. I’m going to continue with feeding them dusted food with every meal and weekly vitamin drops on their backs.

    I doubt this is related, but I had been using distilled water for the soaking side of the terrarium. A couple weeks ago I poured a bit of the calcium dust in the water as well on the off chance the distilled water was leaching from them. I think I’ll switch over to tap water that I’ve let sit out for a week (for the chlorine to evaporate) in the future.

    I’m working through how to also add variety to their diet. I had tried red-wigglers with little success, but now that the tongue seems fully functional I’ll try those again.

    Thank you again for your advice and support!
    Bill

    • avatar

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks for the update…useful info to have on hand. Great to hear of your success.

      The distilled water could very well be involved. It is known to leach salts etc from amphibians and should never be used with them. Chlorine is eliminated from water in an open container after app. 24 hours; chloromines remain, however. Instant chlorine/chloramine removers are very effective, have used for decades at home and in zoos. Please keep me posted, good lick, Frank

  39. avatar

    Hi I cant find the web page where you and I were talking …

    Is there any way to add a scroll bar to your blogs, so we can quickly scroll to the most recent posts (at the bottom of each blog) ?

    This tablet takes so long to reach the bottom of the blogs, that the battery runs out …

    Cant figure out how to see the most recent posts first …

    Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. : )

  40. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I have had 2 american toads for over 3 years now. This year after reading your article regarding rearing earthworm as the almost perfect food for toads, I thought I would try it. I dug up dirt containing worms (from the same place I had previously collected them) and layered it with leaves. I then mixed together cornmeal, oatmeal, tetramin tropical fish food flakes, and Tetrafauna Reptocal including calcium and Vitamin D3 and sprinkled that on top. I obtained burlap and laid it over the top and kept the soil moist, at least on top. I also bought red wigglers and tossed them in. At first I noticed a bit of white furry growth on the soil, but it looked similar to what I sometimes uncover outside while scavenging for food, so I wasn’t overly concerned.

    For most of the month of November I have been feeding them from this container. I have noticed what appears to be a worsening condition in which both toads want to eat, but end up with a repetitive swallowing reflex after trying to catch the worm chunk but missing. They actually open their mouths a little and gulp and swallow maybe 5-10 times after an attempt, even when their mouth is empty. They don’t do this when they aren’t being fed. My first thought was that this is “short tongue deficiency” from a lack of vitamin A, but the Reptocal has 219,000 IU/kg in it. What I don’t have a feel for is how often I need to replace the food on the top. As I add water to keep the soil moist, it may have just dispersed into the soil.

    Even though this sounds a bit negligent on my part, this is the first time I have attempted to supplement them with any vitamins. I have gotten by with wild-caught or crickets in a box that come gut loaded or red wigglers. My initial naive thought is that I’m overdosing them on vitamins (since this is the one thing that has changed) but I’m nervous about buying fresh and going back to what I had been feeding them in case it is a deficiency.

    I could really use some experienced advise, as I’m not sure just how much trial and error time I have.

    Thanks,
    Rhonda

    • avatar

      Hi Rhonda,

      I’ve run into difficulties myself (http://blogs.thatpetplace.com/thatreptileblog/2011/05/31/do-your-frogs-or-toads-have-trouble-catching-insects/) and unfortunately there are quite a few variables. We don’t really know how well earthworms convert what we feed them, and how that nutrition is passed onto toads. Wild caught insects and earthworms are generally preferable to farmed, nutrient -wise, but they vary greatly depending on locale, diet, etc. I would powder all meals with a vitamin supplement..check expiration date and perhaps store excess in frig. Low Calcium levels can also affect feeding behavior, so be sure to use a CA supplement with D3.. I favor this one.

      Replace food as it vanishes from earthworm soil..some may wash in also, but using supplements is hit and miss with them…can’t hurt, but remember they are also feeding on dead leaves, etc. Earthworms ingest soil as they burrow, and extract nutrients from it, so washing Ca etc into the soil is fine.

      Please keep me posted, happy Thanksgiving, Frank

  41. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Just a couple more things I forgot to mention. The toads are still eating on their own, for now. This swallowing/gulping behavior seems to happen most of the time, but every once in a while (like yesterday) they seem just fine, no problems at all. I thought maybe that if I waited longer between feedings that they would struggle more, so I tried smaller but more frequent feedings and that seemed to help, but it might have been a coincidence as today they struggled after eating yesterday.

    Thanks again for any insight you can provide.
    Rhonda

  42. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving.
    Thanks so much for your advice. It is good to know that I’m not likely overdosing them on vitamins. Tonight I dusted their worms with my Reptocal (I didn’t brave the shopping crowds to source your recommendations yet) and I’ll make up some new food for the worm farm. I’ll hope for the best.

    Rhonda

  43. avatar

    Hi, my american toad got white sticky stuff on top of his skin oh his back, I washed it off yesterday , and this morning he had some on him again. I just left him be . Yesterday and tonight the toad wont eat either. He usually eats right away when i feed him a superworm every day. (big meal worm) Is there anything wrong with the toad? im worried. He eats every day and is fat . Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance :)

    • avatar

      Hello,

      You’re seeing the toxins that are stored in glands below the skin (wash your hands well or use latex gloves, and take care not to get any in open cuts, eyes, mouth etc). This is usually released when toads are stressed – grabbed by predator, roughly handled; absent this, toxin secretion can be a sign of an internal ailment – disease, parasite, etc; unfortunately, no rela way to diagnose without a vet visit…and even then, diagnosis could be difficult if there are no other symptoms. Please let me know if you need help in finding a vet.

      As for feeding – super and regular mealworms are not suitable for toads – high in chitin, difficult to digest, and an unhealthy calcium: phosphorus ratio. A newly-molted (white) grub may be used on occasion, but best to avoid. No single species is adequate as a sole diet..variety is critical, and most feeders should be fed well before being used as toad food, and supplemented properly with vitamin and calcium powder. Please see the articles linked below for more on feeding frogs and toads and caring for feeders, and let me know if you need any further info.

      Mealworms are known to cause intestinal blockages; when this occurs, the toad will cease feeding and passing stool…I’ve not seen toxin secretion associated with this, but it is possible. Blockages are easy to diagnose via radiograph or ultra-sound.

      Toads also sometimes slow down during winter, even if kept warm; this is most common with wild-caught individuals.

      Articles are below, please keep me posted, best, frank
      http://bit.ly/eyRJ2E
      http://bit.ly/asjzz2
      http://bit.ly/148Mqx2

  44. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Your blog has been so useful. I often times reference it to answer questions that come up. Thanks so much for keeping up with it.

    I have had 2 american toads for over 3 years and in general they have done well. Recently both toads were eating well but today, when I was cleaning their aquarium, I noticed that the male toad appeared to have some kind of prolapse from his rectum (if that is the appropriate amphibian word). It looks shiny and red and shaped like a bubble, about the size of a multi-lobed pea. I have given him a separate enclosure with paper towel on the bottom, a cave to hide in and his own water dish. So I have 2 questions. The first is if there is anything I can/should do for him myself? Try to push this back in? The second question is about feeding. Is it best to not feed him? My thought process would be not to stimulate further expulsion if a prolapse is indeed possible. He has shown a tendency to stand higher on his rear legs like he is trying to tilt his butt into the air.

    Thanks for your time. I welcome any advise you can give.

    Rhonda

  45. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I was up checking on the toad and went looking for more information. I can’t believe I found your prolapsed cloaca emergency article. This gave me the knowledge that I can and must try something, and that trying to help these parts back in is not only possible but required if he can’t do it on his own. I just got done with the sugar water and qtip vaseline treatment. He didn’t like the sugar water at all. He kept climbing out and the prolapsed region started to look worse. So, I remained persistant but gentle with the qtip and successfully got it all put back in. Dehydration and constipation are things that are listed as potential triggers. The dehydration has my interest because he looked a little drawn in along his back, although his posture caused by his discomfort may have made this to look exaggerated. This was a sudden change. Up and eating and plump looking, to not well. The other interesting thing you mentioned was irritation caused by scent marking. This toad always does the amplexus thing with the female every spring but with the winter being extended this year, I wasn’t surprised by its absence. I wonder if this year he got too ambitious with scent marking or is that independent of mating?

    I would like your suggestions in where to go from here. When can I feed him again and what would be best to give him? I’m thinking a juicy red wiggler.
    I’m also concerned that I didn’t do it right and something will have gotten pinched or that he will expel this again.
    Now that part of him isn’t dragging along outside his body, can I put him back in his normal enclosure?

    Thanks again for giving us access to such important information at all hours of the day.
    Rhonda

    • avatar

      Hello Rhonda,

      Good job…not easy ton deal with this at home. The cloaca may stay in, but there’s no way to be certain, unfortunately. Hold off on feeding for a week or so, then start with a single, very small item,..a section of a small earthworm as you mention would be ideal. Don’t feed again for 3 days or so after that (vets often use liquid foods, tube fed,to limit strain on the area). Dehydration can be a factor, but toads are usually well able to regulate if they have access to a water bowl. I wouldn’t think breeding is involved (can be for females who become egg-bound).Diet can be a factor…let me know what you are feeding them when you have a chance. Might be wise to look for an experienced vet, as you’ll need one if the prolapse re-occurs; let me know if you need help with that, Best, frank

  46. avatar

    Hello again Frank,

    I’d written in before about a toad who was having a hard time using his tongue, a problem which still seems to be totally resolved after following a few of your earlier recommendations.

    I unfortunately have a new concern however. My wife commented on how fat one of the toads was and when I got home today could tell that he seemed to have blown up/bloated quite a lot. I’ve not fed them since Wednesday so I don’t think that he’s just stuffed full of food.

    I’m going to monitor him for a day or two and give the cage a good cleaning tomorrow. Any other suggestions?

    Thanks yet again! Bill

    • avatar

      Hi Bill,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Unfortunately, it’s difficult to diagnose by symptoms alone; bloating is often due to a bacterial infection (gas released by bacteria) or kidney/liver failure but a vet check would be needed; treatment can be difficult; let me know if you need help in locating an amphbian-experienced veterinarian. Best, Frank

  47. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Hope all is well with you and yours. Can you tell me where you buy earthworms and the kind you feed your animals? The ones that I have been feeding and have had luck with are no longer being stocked where I purchased them, they changed their vendor and I tried some of the new ones they now have, but my Toads refuse to eat them – they take one bite, kind of smack their mouths a bit and refuse to take anymore – I tried them on mulitple toads in event just one may have not liked them – or not in the mood that particular day – but they all behaved in this same manner.

    Thank you so much.

    • avatar

      Hello Kelly,

      Fine here, thanks, I hope all is well with you and yours. Worm suppliers sometimes switch the species being sold as red wigglers, etc. …it’s very common these days to see Eisenia fetida; this species has dark rings about the body, and is distasteful to many herps; it’s widely bred for use in composting, etc. I use worms collected in my yard…several introduced species are resident, but I’ve not checked the species. At the zoo, we used a large bait supplier, but this company only sells in huge quantities…it may be hard to find online suppliers that do not carry Eisenia; one of the large chains,, PetCo or Petsmart, carries earthworms…species vary, but I’ve picked up some useful ones at my local store. Nightcrawlers (Lumbricus terrestris) are widely available and accepted by most amphibis…you can breed these and offer young ones, or cut large worms into sections; further info here. Best, Frank

      Dendrobaena

  48. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Thanks again! What do think about Spikes (maggots) larva of the Bluebottle Fly? As they are only about 1/2 inch long I was considering these as possible toad food – but am unsure if they should or should not be used for such – chitlin, biting abilities, etc. Have you used them or have any experience using them in the past?

    • avatar

      Hi Kelly,

      My pleasure..thanks for mentioning maggots, very good point. Bluebottles can be used as part of the diet, perhaps once weekly ..I’ve not used long term; housfly maggots are easier to digest, I believe…have used more often with a variety of amphibs w/o incident; lab strains available, flightless adults a great food as well, can be reared fairly easily; due to human health concerns, I’d stay with lad cultures; here’s an article, pl let me know if you need more info, and pl keep me posted, Frank

  49. avatar

    Hi Frank!

    Thanks so much, I found the below website and they have a lot of food variety! I am trying to expand the menu as much as possible. What are your thoughts on the following options – if to be fed at all and if so frequency also.

    1. Bean Beetles
    2. Wheat Beatles (Weavils)
    3. Silkworms
    4. House Fly Pupae
    5. Dermestid Beetles ( I bulk order crickets and have both adults and larvea received with them, but I have never fed them to the toads, didnt even know what they were until today)
    6. Lesser Waxworm – much smaller than the typical waxworm sold which I like and say it is from the Lesser Wax Moth)

    Thanks so much again.

    http://www.smallpetfeeders.com/search?controller=search&orderby=position&orderway=desc&search_query=spikes

    • avatar

      Thanks, Kelly,

      Useful info there, all good ideas.

      Dermestid larvae have defensive hairs, but adults should be fine (they are still used to clean museum specimens..even at the Am. Museum of natural history; chemicals do not work well in all situations!).

      Fly pupa won’t be taken unless they wiggle a bit, but flies will; pupa great for turtles, newts, fish (dred fly and ant pupa were main ingredients in dry turtle food way back when I was a child…not a good turtle staple, but live pupa fine)

      I’ve not read much on the smaller mealworms/waxworms; likely preferable to larger species, but use sparingly; you can also rear mealworms and feed out newly-molted (white) grubs.

      The following articles list other food sources, incl. wild caught insects; pl keep me posted, enjoy, Frank

      http://bit.ly/eyRJ2E
      http://bit.ly/asjzz2
      http://bit.ly/11eWsN4
      http://bit.ly/16YamUX
      http://bit.ly/1cpcCs4

  50. avatar

    Sorry Frank,

    I forgot to list the Buffalo Mealworm/Beetle also.

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    About Frank Indiviglio

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    Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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