Like frogs, toads are amphibians. They differ from most frogs because they have dry skin, warts, crests behind the eyes, and parotoid glands. The parotoid glands produce a poisonous secretion that helps the toad defend itself from predators. This substance, called a bufotoxin, can cause death in small animals and allergic reactions in humans. Toads have other ways to avoid being eaten too. If they’re brown or green in color, they can blend into their surroundings and escape detection. If brightly colored, they warn predators to stay away because they’re poisonous. Toads also puff up their bodies in an attempt to look bigger and inedible if a predator is nearby.
The smallest North American toad is the oak toad (Bufoquercicus), which reaches a length of only 1.3 inches (3.3 centimeters). Cane toads (Rhinella marina) are the largest toads and grow up to 9 inches (23 centimeters) in length. But a massive cane toad caught in Australia, nicknamed “Toadzilla,” has been described as the size of a small dog!
Toads are found on every continent, excluding Antarctica. Adult toads generally prefer moist, open habitats like fields and grasslands.
Like frogs, most toads eat insects and other arthropods. However, some species eat reptiles, small mammals, and even other amphibians.
Each species of toad has a unique call. Males use their call to attract females for mating or to keep other males away from their territory. After toad eggs are fertilized, most hatch into tadpoles before becoming fully grown adults. Instead of legs, tadpoles have tails for swimming and gills to breathe underwater. As time passes, the tail becomes smaller and smaller until it eventually disappears. At the same time, the tadpole grows legs and loses its gills. Once this metamorphosis stage is complete, the adult toad is ready to live a terrestrial lifestyle. Not all toads (or frogs) have a tadpole stage. However, all amphibians require an unpolluted source of water to reproduce.
The common toad (Bufobufo) lives up to 40 years, but most toad species live about 5 to 10 years.
Toads need to be kept in a terrarium that will keep their surroundings moist but allow good ventilation, hence a small fish tank is an acceptable enclosure but it must be fitted with a screen top. To prevent the toad from escaping, make sure the top is tightly fitted to the tank.
Most of the furnishings required for keeping toads are similar to those for small or medium-sized terrestrial frogs. Toads like to burrow in soil or leaf litter, so give them something they can dig in for substrate.
It is always safest to buy commercially produced substrates, and they are not expensive. Avoid using gravel or other substrates which your toad might swallow while hunting and which could cause intestinal impaction.
You should provide your toad with hiding places in the form of pieces of bark, branches, or rocks.
All amphibians must have constant access to fresh water. Like frogs, toads do not actually drink water, but absorb it through their skins.A toad does not need to swim, but it might like a soak. All that they require is a shallow bowl; they are not good swimmers.Make sure they can easily get into and out of the bowl.The water must be changed daily to prevent bacterial contamination which would cause your pet to become ill. The water must be dechlorinated—tap water could poison them.
Most true toads native to Europe and the United States prefer cooler temperatures.
They will generally spend their days burrowed in soil or leaf litter and emerge at night when the temperatures are cooler. They usually do well with a daytime temperature between 60-70 F.Because of their warty skins, toads need lower ambient humidity than frogs and will get enough moisture from soaking in their water bowls at nights. However, if your house is particularly dry, like if you use central heating in winter, you might want to increase the humidity in the enclosure by spraying it with clean, dechlorinated water a few times a week.
In general, you will not need any special heating or lighting equipment for your enclosure, unless you are keeping it in an unheated room in winter where temperatures fall very low.