Home | Frank's Creatures | My Animal Collection: How a Herpetologist Keeps American Toads and Related Species, Part III

My Animal Collection: How a Herpetologist Keeps American Toads and Related Species, Part III

Please see Parts I and 2 of this article for information on housing and diet. Today I’ll conclude with some thoughts on toads in community terrariums and the wild.

Tank mates
American toads are quite peaceful towards one another, but larger animals will nudge others from food, so keep an eye on them at feeding time. The conditions favored by toads are also suited to a number of other interesting creatures, and their diets and temperaments suit them ideally to community terrariums.

Wood FrogCompatible animals include spotted, tiger, marbled, slimy and other terrestrial salamanders (see photo), wood frogs (see photo), gray, barking, green and other native treefrogs and land snails. Assuming that space permits the establishment of a warm basking area (without over-heating the toads), you can also house a number of small reptiles with American toads. I have had kept them with 5-lined skinks, Italian wall lizards, green anoles, DeKay’s (brown) snakes, ring-necked snakes and smooth green snakes. There are other possible toad-companions as well – please write in if you would like more suggestions.

Free-Living Pets
Spotted SalamanderAmerican toads will utilize favored burrows for years on end, with wild individuals documented as remaining within the same territory for over 20 years. If you have a population living nearby, encourage the toads to stay nearby by providing a shallow, easily-exited pool and some retreats in the form of half-buried, inverted clay flower pots. Resident toads will learn to gather at an outdoor light in hopes of an insect meal, and will otherwise delight you with their comings and goings.

 

We know little about the movements of adult amphibians, but it does seem that American toads are usually found within a limited home range, so one can become quite familiar with the individuals resident in a garden or similar area. An interesting article on the home ranges of American toads is posted at:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3845/is_/ai_n17183721

128 comments

  1. avatar

    Hello Gord & Frank,
    It’s AAron again. I had seen different places where they used brown anoles to feed snakes, other lizards and frogs. I just wondered how Frank felt about it. I have bee doing a lot of thinking since posting on here. I feel it would be best if I did not use the Spadefoot Toad either because it would be very challenging and I would have a heart attack trying to find it. I have decided to instead have A couple meaning a male & female (if I can be so lucky) of American Toads, Northern Leopard Frogs, & Southern Toads while only having 1 Southern Leopard Frog. I have believe it or not after all this talk been considering the Carolina Anole as well because that’s one of the most popular Herps in NC. Would the Carolina Anole be ok in here with a ceramic heater, Repti Glo 2.0 or a 26W light and being fed in a separate container? Thanks for all the help and development on here,

    AAron

    • avatar

      Hi Aaron,

      Spadefoots do not do well if continually un-earthed; best left to their own devices, viewed on those few occasions when you catch them out above ground.

      Anoles tricky to keep with frogs…the heat they need dries substrates, high UVB needs which may not be good for frogs, large adults will eat them, etc.

      Best, frank

  2. avatar

    Hello again Frank,

    Thanks for the reply back. It does seem to be challenging to keep Anoles with Frogs and Toads. I think I will just stick to the Amphibians. Thanks for all the help and I’ll let you know when I start this.

    AAron

  3. avatar

    Hello Frank,
    I got the 30 Gallon and have it up and running. I only have a bunch of vines and a peace Lilly so far in there. I’m going to look into ferns also. Do you know where I can find ferns that will thrive in a Vivarium that are from North America? I also found a bin and made it suitable for the leopard frogs water dish. He can submerge completely. I put the Toads rock in the water so she can get out. I also used a plastic floater for them to get out. It’s been a few days and when I put the toad in she was very happy, then the next morning I woke up and she was no where to be found. She is doing the same thing that she did in her last tank. The leopard frog is a dominant male who croaked all times of the day until introduced to the toad and the new tank. Is it normal for him to spend quite a bit of time on land? The project has started.

    Thanks,
    AAron

    • avatar

      Hi Aaron,

      Leopard frogs wander far from water when weather is damp…were called “meadow frogs” long ago; he’ll regulate as needed. Avoid rough , overly-dry substrates.

      Pothos is a bit “too regular” for many people, but I love it….will grow floating, on land, can trim and leaves and form nice lives vines etc.

      I don’t have any dealers to refer you to, sorry; try Black Jungle and similar suppliers; check FB for fern interest groups…Bromeliad folks are often interested in ferns also, plenty of related groups online. Some are tricky..best to go with what folks recommend as hardy…I used several natives at zoo w/o much luck, but would like to hear if you try any local species. Good luck, enjoy and pl keep me posted, Frank

  4. avatar

    Hello Frank,
    Thank you for the relieving news about my Leopard Frog. I will look into pothos. I just thought that it would make both animals more comfortable. I am not too picky about plants. I have been letting my Toad sleep a lot and since she didn’t come up I haven’t really fed get except when her and Spot ( Leopard Frog ) went in the tank. Will it be ok to only feed her when she comes up? I haven’t seen her poop in quite a while I think due to the winter month. Also as I was looking into that tank for the PA/NC Vivarium, I saw that the 5ftx2ftx2ft was only $35 more so I’m really considering that. That would be a great deal of space for every inhabitant. So the Five Lined Skink might be back in discussion as well.
    Thanks for the continued help and advice, greatly appreciated,
    AAron

    • avatar

      Hi Aaron,

      Pothos is great as a cover plant…frogs can move in and around it, leaves stand up to squashing, etc.

      Yes, feed toad when it seems hungry… cool nite temps could be affecting it; active range may be different from that of the frog (temperature tolerance etc varies widely across the range of each, so origin of the animal matters); assuming it’s in good health, the toad will not starve,…very effective at storing fat, slowing metabolism. Best, Frank

  5. avatar

    The Leopard Frog is from the northern part of the east coast. I keep them in 73 F and up to 80. Is that to cold for the Toad? When I saw her she looked like she maintained all her weight. She looked really good and ate a few worms before disappearing again. I’m going to have them tested soon so I can find out if she is sick.
    Thanks,
    AAron

    • avatar

      Hi Aaron,

      Most toads and leopard frogs remain active, feeding into the mid 50’s; in general, low-mid 70’s preferable to higher temps. “Internal clocks” sometimes govern behavior…wild caught animals may become dormant in winter even if kept warm; but there are few general rules…much to be learned. After a few worms the toad will not need food for some time…not expending much energy, even when active, in a tank etc. Seems like all is fine, enjoy, Frank

  6. avatar

    Hello again Frank,
    I had gotten some plants from lowes to put in the terrarium and had to move my toad. She was very fat and she has been like this when I would wake her up if I needed to move her. She would normally take a long pee and be back to normal hoping around the tank. She was no different this past time, she was very fat though. What do you think this could be? Also I was looking into natural plants for the big terrarium. Would these plants be fine?

    plant purple pitcher
    Maidenhair ferns
    Iris
    Canna Plant
    Myrtle
    Bamboo
    Charlotte bromeliad
    Venus flytrap
    Ficus
    Pothos
    Lady Fern
    Water lettuce
    Water hyacinth
    Ribbon Grass

    Thanks,
    AAron

    • avatar

      Hi Aaron,

      They are very good at storing fat, and expend few calories in tanks, so they do tend to become obese. A swollen appearance, caused more by gas than fat, is indicative of a parasitic infection, bacterial prob etc…but you’d see other symptoms.

      Small ficus, pothos are ideal; other typical houseplants that work well are spider plants, cast iron pl, Chinese evergreen, earth stars. Canna, isir are huge – 6-8 feet for canna, as far as I know. Ferns can be tough but worth trying. Insectivorous plants are fascinating but most need specialized conditions..acidic soil, very humid surroundings etc, and many are delicate, will be crushed. Perhaps better kept for their own sake, or with tiny amphibs, some spiders, etc. Some of the larger pitchers, and the hanging pitchers, may work.

      The fluid released by the toad is generally stored water as opposed to urine – used to distract predators when toad is attacked. Fairly instinctive, but they sometimes cease the habit after a time in captivity,

      Enjoy, Frank

  7. avatar

    Hello Frank,
    My Toad has never urinated on me ever. I mean when she comes up from the dirt she will release something. So if every time she comes up and she returns to normal size, she is okay then? Also iris plants are all around my area and my relatives have canna all around theirs. It’s relatively small now. If I would cut the iris and the canna plant back when they grow to large would I be able to use them? I was looking into plants native to PA & NC and Venus Fly Traps came up with some of these. I thought it was worth asking. But I’m very interested about using plants both the northern and southern inhabitants actually have in their native habitat. I’ll keep looking around the web and asking around. Thanks for the help,
    AAron

    • avatar

      Hi Aaron,
      Yes, sounds like the toad is fine.

      I’ve not tried using iris, canna…would do no harm if you can get it to grow. Fly traps may work if you cn plant high on a ledge etc, out of reach. Nice to use natives, but temperate plants often die back in the fall, even if given light etc…this is why we must often substitute tropical species in zoo exhibits…they grow year-round. But there may be exceptions,. I’ll keep in mind also, best, Frank

  8. avatar

    Hello Frank,
    The Toad and Leopard Frog are doing well together. They actually will borrow next to each other during the day. The Leopard Frog has become tolerant of me, he gets nervous when touched still. Work on the project is nearly ready, I am looking into the planning process now. I’m also looking at a custom terrarium that is 5ftx2ftx2ft. I am still committed to pairs of American Toads, Northern Leopard Frogs and Southern Toads, However, I was wondering how a Green Frog and or a Southern Leopard Frog would do? Which would do better possibly, if the space would be enough space for these animals. I was looking online for care sheets about Green Frogs on Frog Forum and saw they were very aggressive. Then I saw your blogs on them. Great articles by the way, just curious. Also would it be good to have earthworms, the roly poley bugs, and sow bugs colonies in the tank? Thanks
    AAron

    • avatar

      Hi Aaron,

      Nice to hear that your project is progressing. Green frogs are highly aquatic,and need a good deal of well-filtered water. A large adult would consume or try to consume leopard frogs. Good idea to release sow bugs into the tank; great scavengers and food source for the frogs. Earthworms do not always survive at room temperatures in the summer…species vary as to heat tolerance. Enjoy, Frank

  9. avatar

    Dear Frank,
    Thanks for the advice. I had no idea that Green Frogs were so aggressive. I have seen them together so much I would have never known. Would it be safe for Wood Frogs or would the Leopard Frogs try to eat them too?
    Thanks
    AAron

    • avatar

      Hi Aaron,

      They do often live in close proximity to one another; it’s not territorial aggression, but rather feeding..all frogs will try to eat whatever fits in their mouths, but green frogs get big enough to be a risk, and tend to focus on large food items when available…dragonflies, minnows, smaller frogs. Adult Wood frogs should do okay, they are almost as terrestrial as toads. Best, Frank

  10. avatar

    Hey Frank,
    I’m growing a little concerned with my Leopard Frog. He seems to be unhappy and I can’t think of many reasons why. I have noticed he hasn’t been as hungry and has been hiding more. I haven’t fed them anything but crickets in a few weeks because a local bait shop was getting ready to open. Could this be a reason? I found that the store I purchased him from collected him from Texas, possibly mating season? He hasn’t appeared sick but this can’t be ruled out. I’m just concerned.
    Thanks,
    AAron

    • avatar

      Hello Aaron,

      Unfortunately there’s no way to diagnose the problem by symptoms alone, as not feeding is common to just about every ailment they may have. Assuming the water and substrate are clean and ammonia-free, a vet visit would be your best option if the animal does not feed. crickets alone are not an adequate diet, but they are usually readily taken. Wild caught animals always harbor parasites…some of these cause no problems, but others can become dangerous in captivity. Please let me know if you need more info. best, frank

  11. avatar

    Hey Frank,
    Thanks for the timely response. I agree that crickets alone aren’t good, they eat tomorrow so I’ll stop by the bait shop and pickup some earthworms and Waxworms and see if that makes a difference. He doesn’t look any skinnier but he doesn’t take the food like he used too. I’ll see if he perks up with the different options tomorrow, if he remains this way I will take him to the vet. I have been taking the screen off and watching them eat which has been a slight change from before. Could change of how I feed them be a reason?
    Thanks,
    AAron

    • avatar

      Hi Aaron,

      Stress affects them, but difficult to say if this is the reason. They love earthworms, and these are better as a dietary staple than crickets, so perhaps that will help. Pets tend to get more food than they need, so it may just be reaching its limits; try fasting for a few days, best, Frank

  12. avatar

    Hello Frank,

    My husband loves frogs and we now have what we believe are a pacific northwest tree frog and a Cascades frog (we live in Seattle). I’m not sure how much you know about Seattle area frogs, but I was wondering if they can live together in the same tank? And how big of a tank would they need? We currently have them in their own tank, but I would love to save some space!

    Thanks,
    Cecilia

    • avatar

      Hello Cecilia,

      Large frogs will consume any smaller creature, including other frogs; the cascades frog, or a similar species, would also out-compete and stress the other. Diet is a key concern for these and others..please see this article and feel free to send info re their set-up, care and diet. Best, Frank

  13. avatar

    The pacific tree frog is smaller, and we would hate it if he was eaten!

  14. avatar

    Dear Frank,

    I have recently moved to Utah from northern California. When I lived in California I was pleasantly surprised to find toads in my garden. I got them toad houses that they actually lived in. I put out a large saucer of water which they drank from. That was my first contact ever with toads and I loved them. I really miss the little guys. I would love to have more now that I am in Utah, but I don’t know where to find them. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • avatar

      Hello Rickie,

      Well, Utah is not among the most “amphibian-friendly” of states! Actually, there are 8 very interesting toad species there, but most, i.e. the 3 spadefoots, Arizona, Red-Spotted Toads are localized in distribution and remain dormant during dry periods, emerging only after rains. the Great Plains and Woodhouse’s Toads are more widespread and adapt to a variety of habitats. Houses generally work best when a population is present…water, especially a sizable shallow pool, can be effective in drawing toads in, especially if provided at the start of the breeding season in arid locales. Please see this site for info on where each species occurs within Utah, and let me know if you need more info, enjoy, Frank

  15. avatar

    Hello Frank,
    Things have been well with the project. I caught the male toad that will accompany the other one and the leopard frogs in the build. I come with some bad news however, my toad the one who made it through the winter seem like she is sick. I can’t be too sure because it’s mating season here and my leopard frog acted weird when it was his time. She has been laying around all day and night. I’m wondering if maybe her summer cycle of sleeping is back, or maybe she has become bored. When I took her out she was very active and getting into everything in the hallway. I think it’s time for a vet visit because she hasn’t gone in a long time and last feed was the first time she didn’t take any. I know you said about them reaching their limits but there are a lot if possibilities now I also have been finding her asleep with her eyes closed. Just wondering what’s best because I hate seeing her like this. Please help,
    AAron

    • avatar

      Hello Aaron,

      Unfortunately there’s no way to diagnose a health problem of this type without a vet visit…parasites, which are always present in wild caught animals, are often involved; some are relatively harmless, but populations build in captivity. I hope all goes well, please keep me posted, frank

  16. avatar

    Hey Frank,
    AAron here, the build is complete and I’m missing the female leopard frog since where I got the male is sold out currently. Spot the Leopard Frog I have been noticing has twitching toes and I’m taking him to the doctors this week. I use Repti Cal with D3 and Reptivite with Vitamin A. He was looking nervous. This is strange behavior for him. So the Dr. Visit will really ease things. The one toad had a prolapse and is better now. She got help also. Toto the toad wasn’t soaking so it was hard for her to go. The other toad the new male King II is fine. He is very calm and burrows until he is hungry. I also play a noise to stimulate behavior. It’s bugs from the woods like crickets, katydid, and etc. I use T5 lights that are on timers. I have an LED light that’s in the setup. The plants are all doing fine. I am using Periwinkle, Dragon’s Tail Ferns, and Water Lettuce. I had Ribbon Grass but am replacing it for Blue Fescue Grass since it will stay small and can handle the particular part of the enclosure. So there isn’t much left. I use an Exo Terra Monsoon RS400 with extensions to mist both this and my WTF’s. I have an Exo Terra Fogger also and will have a 100W Ceramic Heat Emitter for the colder seasons. I have learned a lot in just this past month that it’s been up and running with the differences in a 30 Gallon and a 75 Gallon with Local Plants and Animals. It’s definitely not for beginners or lazy people haha. I have a Thread on the Frog Forum from the beginning to now on the progress. It should be named 75 Gallon Vivarium Build and I’m
    Larry Wardog As a username.
    I also have a YouTube channel going for the Frogs and Toads of the 75 Gallon (WTF’s soon) so if you want you can see the videos of them also.
    http://youtu.be/f79DsOlWTrg
    That’s the newest.
    I just wanted to give an update for how things have been. Thanks for all of the help, I greatly appreciate it.

    AAron

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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