Red-spotted Toad

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Other common names: Red Spotted Toad; Baird's Spotted Toad

Scientific name: Bufo punctatus

The basics:
These attractive little toads are somewhat shyer than their larger relatives, but once acclimated to their new homes make fine, long-lived pets.

The Red-spotted Toad ranges from southeastern California to southwestern Kansas, USA and south to Baja California and Hidalgo, Mexico.

It may be found in dry, rocky thorn scrub, open grasslands and deserts, in the vicinity of springs and shallow pools.

Appearance / health:
The Red-spotted Toad is rounded in body shape, with a somewhat pointed head and an average length of 1.4-3.3 inches. They are gray or various shades of brown in color, and marked with numerous red or orange “warts”.

These arid-adapted amphibians may live to 20+ 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:
Red-spotted Toads are primarily nocturnal, but often become active by day in captivity. Once adjusted to their surroundings, they will hop out in anticipation of a meal when someone approaches their terrarium.

Like all amphibians, these 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.

Red-spotted Toads do well in groups if provided enough space and cover. A 10 gallon tank makes a good home for 2 adults.

Sphagnum/carpet moss or terrarium liners may be used as the substrate, as these are difficult to swallow. Cork bark rolls and plastic caves will be well-used as retreats. Red-spotted Toads may also be housed in terrariums with a deep layer of top soil covered by dead leaves. In these situations they will establish permanent burrows. 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 72-80 F.

The terrarium should be lightly misted each day, and damp moss should be placed within their hiding spots. 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 loose, gray vocal sacs and smaller size. A commercial rain chamber, or increased misting, is useful in stimulating breeding behavior at most any time of year.

Gravid female toads deposit strings of eggs on the water’s surface. At 72-78 F, the tadpoles hatch within 2-10 days. They may be reared on a diet of fish food flakes, commercial tadpole pellets, and par-boiled dandelion. Metamorphosis is achieved in 30-40 days.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

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