Common Toad

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Other common names: European Common Toad, European Common Toad

Scientific name: Bufo bufo

The basics:
These droll creatures are very similar in appearance and husbandry needs to American Toads, and make equally delightful and hardy pets.

The huge natural range extends from Norway, Sweden, Finland and northern Russia to Europe’s southern boundaries.

The Common Toad favors habitat with dense cover, but is quite adaptable. It may be found in forests, wood lots, meadows, swamps, farms, and suburban yards.

Appearance / health:
The Common Toad is stout and rounded in body shape, with a broad head and an average length of 2-5 inches. There are large parotoid (poison) glands behind the eyes. Common Toads may be olive, light gray, or various shades of brown in color, and are flecked with dark spots.

These hardy little creatures may live to 30+ years of age with proper care. Nutritional concerns such as “Short-Tongue Syndrome” (related to a Vitamin A deficiency) and digestive tract blockages that result from feeding large or difficult-to-digest insects, are the most commonly encountered health problems

Behavior / temperament:
Common Toads are primarily nocturnal, but often become active by day in captivity. Among the calmest of all amphibians, they are very aware of their surroundings and often hop out in anticipation of a meal when someone approaches their terrarium.

Despite their ready acceptance of human company, toads should be handled only when necessary, and then with wet hands so that the skin’s protective mucus is not removed. Amphibian skin secretions may cause irritations when transferred to their owner’s wounds, eyes, or the mouth.

Common Toads do well in groups if provided enough space and cover. A 20 gallon tank makes a good home for 2-3 adults.

Sphagnum/carpet moss or terrarium liners may be used as the substrate, with cork bark rolls and plastic caves provided as retreats. Common Toads may also be housed in terrariums with a deep layer of soil covered by dead leaves. Live plants will lessen the need for substrate changes.

These hardy creatures can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, but fare best when kept at 66-75 F.

The terrarium should be misted twice daily. They need only a simple water bowl, which should be changed daily. Chlorine and chloramine must be removed from water via liquid preparations available at pet stores.

A highly-varied diet is essential. Crickets alone, even if powdered with supplements, will not support long-term health. Earthworms, roaches, sow bugs, crickets, small locusts, butterworms, calciworms, cultured houseflies, silkworms, and other commercially-available insects will all be readily accepted. Mealworms have been implicated in digestive system disorders, and should be avoided.

Most meals should be coated with a powdered Calcium/Vitamin D3 supplement. A vitamin mineral supplement may be used 2-3x weekly.

Males may be distinguished from females by their thickened thumbs (nuptial pads) and smaller size. A cooling-off period of 6 weeks at 50 F (after a week-long fast) may spark breeding activity. A commercial rain chamber, or increased misting, is useful in stimulating breeding behavior.

Gravid female toads deposit strings of 1000-8,000+ eggs on the water’s surface and among aquatic plants. At 70-75 F, the tadpoles hatch within 3-12 days. They may be reared on a diet of fish food flakes, commercial tadpole pellets, and par-boiled kale. Metamorphosis is achieved in 30-90 days.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

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