Species: The American Toad or Bufo Americanus belongs to the Bufo genus of the Bufonidae family.
Origin: True to their name, the American Toads originate from the Americas and are widely distributed across the eastern half of North America.
Size and Longevity:
The American Toads are rugged species that make excellent pets for both beginners and experts in amphibian care. The adult females normally grow to about 4-5 inches in length, while males manage about 3-4 inches.
Different groups of experts hold varied opinions about the longevity of the American Toad. While some sources quote it to be about 10 to 12 years and some say they live to about 15, while a few place it at a whooping 36 years. All said and done, we can conservatively estimate that your American Toad will be your friend for at least a decade as long as you care for it properly.
The American Toad is usually mossy-green to rusty-brown in color on the back, which is usually covered with wart-like humps. They have short legs and a smallish head but not so small a mouth. Individuals can have patterns of stripes, spots or reticulations helping them blend into their natural habitat.
Habitat and Caging Requirements:
A standard 10 gallon terrarium would suffice to house a couple of American Toads. Make sure you check with your pet store before placing other toads or frogs in the company of an American Toad because some frogs and toads are extremely aggressive and might eat others, while others can be poisonous. There have been reports like one, where a Pacman frog died in the first 5 minutes of its becoming a neighbor of a fire bellied toad.
You must also make sure that the lid of the terrarium fits securely and never leave the lid open since these guys like to test their jumping skills ever so often.
American Toads are a quite hardy species when it comes to temperature variations, since they come from a relatively temperate natural habitat. A range of 60 to 70 degrees will work beautifully for these toads, while you may need the terrarium to be a tad bit warmer than 70 degrees if your toad hails from a warmer climate.
Using a heating pad or a low-wattage heating lamp with a thermostat will be useful since using a high wattage bulb can cause overheating.
Also, it is important not to use heating rocks or similar hot structures as they can cause burns.
While toads are used to not so humid climes, it is best to give the terrarium a misting or two a day to help them keep themselves moist. This is important because they breathe through their skin and need to keep their skin wet to enable the transfer of oxygen.
The American toad can tolerate a variance in humidity but for best results, it is advisable to keep a constant supply of fresh water for the toad, and to pour some water into the substrate in one corner of the terrarium so there is a moist spot as well as a few dry spots in the terrarium, so the toad can choose where he wants to be.
The habitat ecology and substrate
American Toads need no special décor to their terrarium, as long as it is big enough for it to move around and has a few hiding spots, and a little pool for him to take a dive once in a while, he should be quite happy in his glass-walled home.
The Terrarium: Be big enough for the frog to be able to live its normal life, swimming and moving around a bit.
The Soil and substrate: These toads like to burrow and chill through the day, so make sure you have some soft sphagnum moss or pulverized coconut fiber substrate that your American Toad can dig into.
Since toads need their skin to be moist, you will have to mist the terrarium two to three times a day and pour a bit of water into one corner of the terrarium to create a wet spot.
Props and plants: You can make your frog happy by giving him hiding spots - a few plants, a slate or medium-sized stone he can burrow under, and if possible a coconut shell he can crawl into.
Water: A frog pond about 4 times the size of the frog, and about half its height should be good enough for the American toad as long as there is a ramp-like structure for it to get out of the pool after its swim.
1. You will need to thoroughly de-chlorinate the water you use in the terrarium, both for the frog’s pond as well as for misting. Frogs are extremely sensitive to acidic environments and can die very quickly if you use water with chlorine or any other impurities.
It is best to use either fresh rain water or tap water, treated with a standard de-chlorinator and left overnight to become slightly stale. You can get a de-chlorinator from your local pet store or from the shopping page of this website.
2. If you are using a filter, make sure it is small, as larger filters remove small organisms that help maintain a pH closer to 7 (7 on the pH scale is absolute neutral that is neither acidic nor alkaline).
3. If you are unsure about anything related to your frog, please contact your pet store. It’s always better safe than sorry.
Temperature and Lighting Requirements:
American toads that come from the northern regions will require a range of about 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit while those from the warmer regions might want the heat turned up a little more. 75 degrees should make them happy.
They also need a good distinction between day and night, along with a little UV radiation to help them synthesize their vitamins. Giving them a 12 hour photo-cycle will be sufficient, using a white or daylight lamp. American Toads don’t fuss about fluorescent light but it is advisable to give them a slightly warmer color temperature (5000 to 6000 Kelvin) that’s more in tune with daylight.
They are nocturnal species and if you wish to observe them while they’re active, you can use a red lamp to light up your terrarium by night because frogs cannot see red light. They will think they are moving around in the dark.
Feeding and Nutrition:
As with most frogs and toads, even the Bufo americanus is not a fuss pot about its diet. They will eat every moving object can be captured and pushed into their mouths.
Feeding them with 4 to 6 standard sized feed items every other day will keep them healthy. If you wish to give them nutritional supplements, dusting their prey with calcium and multivitamin powder, or gut-loading crickets two times a week will give them all the essential nutrients.
NOTE: Be very careful while feeding your Pacman because they will pounce on the prey with all the aggression and speed they can muster…you will not have more than a fraction of a second before the frog takes a bite at your finger along with its food. You must be even more cautious when you use tweezers because the tips of the tweezers can cause severe and often fatal injuries to the frog, even if they are blunt and rounded.
Staple & Supplemental Insects:
You can always make crickets their staple diet - toads love them and they’re easy to find. Your local pet store will sell you live crickets. Just make sure you give the crickets a wet sponge and a potato wedge to get their water and food till your frog eats them. It makes sure they don’t die, and also ensures your frog gets a good feed with each cricket.
However if you want your toad to be happy, you need to give it variety. Mealworms, earthworms, super worms and any other pellet feed you can get from your local pet store will do and more importantly, they also give the toad its quota of minerals and vitamins.
It is almost impossible to tell between male and female toads when they are young. As they grow older, the gender distinction does not become very easy, while females are usually significantly larger than males, individuals may have no differences what so ever. So the only way you could tell a male is by its croak when you try and grab its hind quarters like they do when they try to mate.