I have always found Marine Toads to be among the most engaging of amphibian pets. Toads in general seem to be (externally at least) more responsive than frogs- they “watch” everything, and appear to deliberately consider their next move. Protected as they are by powerful skin toxins, Marine Toads in particular seem possessed of real “confidence” in captivity, and we can get to know them well if we take the time.
Please see Marine Toads – Natural History for information on Marine Toads in the wild.
Enclosure and Physical Environment
Some Marine Toads grow quite large – to 10 inches, and even small individuals can be quite active and consequently need a large terrarium. An averaged-sized adult can be kept in a 30 gallon “long” aquarium – while a really large one or a pair will do best in a tank of 55-75 gallon capacity.
During warm weather, Marine Toads can be housed in secure outdoor enclosures as well. Insects lured by a small light or over-ripe fruit will supply your toads with important dietary variety.
Their enclosure should be topped by a screen cover secured by clamps and the substrate should be kept damp but not wet. Compressed Frog Moss, Fir and Sphagnum Moss Bedding and Reptile Cage Carpet all work well. Marine Toads have a tendency to swallow substrate when feeding – usually they pass this without incident, but tong-feed your animals or use a feeding bowl –prod- if you notice this happening frequently.
Despite being quite bold, Marine Toads require a hide-a way where they can get out of sight (Rock Den or Turtle Hut). Be sure to provide a cave for each of your toads, as animals that cluster in one shelter seem prone to fungal infections of the skin.
Marine Toads need to soak frequently, so always have a bowl of de-chlorinated water available. Be sure that small toads can exit the water bowl easily, as they are poor swimmers.
While small toads can be kept in planted exhibits, adults will mangle all but the sturdiest of plants (try Cast Iron Plants and Snake Plants). They will clamber about on smooth logs – just be sure that these are secured in place as these brutes are quite strong and may roll a log onto themselves or a tank-mate.
Light, Heat and Humidity
Marine Toads do not require UVB radiation, and so will get along with a regular fluorescent bulb. Use a low UVB output plant light if you keep live plants, as high levels may cause eye damage.
The terrarium should be maintained at 72-80 F. Marine Toads can tolerate much warmer conditions – I have uncovered them below boards at temperatures of 100 F – but such is stressful and should be avoided.
Despite being largely terrestrial, Marine Toads seem quite prone to desiccation – spray their terrarium each morning and keep a water bowl available at all times. They often defecate in the water bowl – be sure to clean this as soon as possible, lest they absorb ammonia and other toxins through their skin.
Your pets should be given as much dietary variety as possible. I have observed wild Marine Toads consuming over 2 dozen insect species in a very short time, and other researchers have documented a huge range of prey items (please see Marine Toads – Natural History article).
The main portion of their diet should not be crickets, but rather a mix of earthworms (these can be used as the bulk of their diet if necessary), roaches, crickets, and waxworms. Silkworms and Tomato Hornworms, available via internet dealers, should be offered from time to time. I use super mealworms sparingly, but others have done so frequently without incident. I have found crayfish to be an important food item for a wide variety of creatures, including Marine Toads. I remove their claws, just to be on the safe side.
Adults fed a varied diet require a vitamin/mineral supplement only once each week at most. The food of growing animals should be supplemented 2-3 times weekly.
Check back Wednesday for the conclusion of Marine Toads as Pets.