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Home > Frogs > Do Toads Make Good Pets? Vet-Approved Facts (With Pictures)

Do Toads Make Good Pets? Vet-Approved Facts (With Pictures)

Common Toad

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Toads are such interesting little creatures. It’s common to find them hopping around outside and they’re often so cute it can be hard to resist picking them up. Of course, toads come with the old wives’ tale of giving their handlers warts, which is not true.

Just like frogs, toads are amphibians. The only difference is that they have skin bumps, and crests behind the eyes, which are their parotid glands, and the absence of teeth. Many people keep frogs as pets, but what about toads? Do they make good pets? The answer is entirely dependent on the individual asking the question.

Toads can make interesting pets, but they aren’t for everyone. Toads aren’t a pet that you can handle very often. They are better just being observed. If you love amphibians and are prepared to care for a pet that needs little to no handling, a toad may be right for you.

divider- frog

Toads as Pets


Please note that many states and jurisdictions may have legislation that prevents capturing or owning toads. Always make sure you have the permission to legally own an exotic pet before deciding to adopt one. Capturing wild animals is not advised, as this disrupts local ecosystems. Toads naturally produce toxins are not considered safe pets for children, the elderly, pregnant individuals, or immunocompromised individuals. They can also prove problematic for other pets, such as dogs and cats. In addition, amphibians may naturally harbor Salmonella and spread it to humans and other pets.

If you are in the US, please refer to state laws before deciding to adopt an exotic or wild pet. Elsewhere, please refer to relevant jurisdictions in your area.

green toad in hand
Image Credit: makamuki0, Pixabay

Toads secrete toxins through their skin as a defense mechanism. They also are known to pee in self-defense, especially when handled by humans. Hand washing is a necessity when handling toads, gloves are also recommended.

Toads become stressed very easily and will use these defense tactics whenever handled. That’s not to say a toad cannot become used to their owner, but it’s best to ensure that you minimize handling your toad.

Toads will recognize a routine and will associate you with feeding time. You can expect to be greeted by your hungry little amphibian upon arrival.

Toads typically reach adult size in 6-18 months, depending on the species. You’ll want to thoroughly clean their habitat once per week and always provide fresh water.divider- frog

The 6 Common Toad Species Kept as Pets

Now that we know toads can make great pets if they are well cared for and observed rather than handled, let’s take a look at the most common species of toad kept as pets.

1. American Toad

Close-up of American Toad on rock
Image Credit: Miles Boyer, Shutterstock
Experience Level:  Beginner
Family: Bufonidae
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus americanus
Adult Size: 2-4.5 inches (5-11 cm)
Lifespan: 15 years
Diet: Insects, spiders, earthworms, slugs, and other invertebrates.
UVB Lighting: Not required
Temperature Range: 60 to 70⁰F (15.6 – 21⁰C)
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons

The American Toad is found in most areas of eastern Canada and the United States. They make for one of the best pet toads for beginners.

2. California Toad

California Toad Bufo boreas halophilus
California Toad Bufo boreas halophilus (Image Credit: Greg Schechter from San Francisco, USA, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0)
Experience Level:  Beginner
Family: Bufonidae
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus boreas halophilus
Adult Size: 2 – 5 inches (5 – 10 cm)
Lifespan: 5 years
Diet: Fish food pellets, blood worms, shrimps
UVB Lighting: Low-Level UVB
Temperature Range: 75°F (24 °C)
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons

California Toads, also known as Western Toads, can make for easy pets to care for but typically do not like being handled.

3. Cane Toad

closeup of a cane toad sitting in the grass
Image Credit: Johan Larson, Shutterstock
Experience Level:  Beginner to Intermediate
Family: Bufonidae
Scientific Name: Rhinella marina
Adult Size: 4-6 inches
Lifespan: 15-25 years
Diet: Crickets, small rodents, insects
UVB Lighting: Not required
Temperature Range: Minimum 75ºF (24 °C)
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons

The Cane Toad is a perfect choice if you’re looking for a larger toad. They are olive green in color and can live up to 25 years. They are moderately active and are low-maintenance pets.

4. Oak Toad

Oak toad viewed in hand
Oak toad viewed in hand (Image Credit: Eric Shashoua, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0)
Experience Level:  Intermediate
Family: Bufonidae
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus quercicus
Adult Size: 0.75-1.53 inches (1.9 – 3.3 cm)
Lifespan: 2-4 years
Diet: Small crickets, insects, small roaches
UVB Lighting: Low-level UVB preferred
Temperature Range: 75⁰F to 80⁰F (24 – 26.7 ⁰C)
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons

The Oak Toad is the smallest toad in North America. They are a very short-lived species of toad and typically live about 3 years.

5. Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad

Oriental Fire Belly Toad
Image Credit: Rufus- Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad, Amber Grunden, Flicker, Attribution CC 2.0
Experience Level:  Intermediate
Family: Bombinatoridae
Scientific Name: Bombina orientalis
Adult Size: 2 inches
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Diet: Small Insects, mealworms, waxworms
UVB Lighting: Light low level required
Temperature Range: 60⁰F to 70⁰F (15.6 – 21⁰C)
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons

Oriental Fire-Bellied Toads are small with shiny, red coloring and black spots. In the wild, they are found in Korea, northeastern China, and parts of Russia.

6. Tomato Toad

Tomato Toad Frog
Image Credit: Audrey Snider-Bell, Shutterstock
Experience Level:  Beginner
Family: Microhylidae
Scientific Name: Dyscophus antongilii
Adult Size: .5-3.5 inches
Lifespan: 6-8 years
Diet: Crickets, nightcrawlers, freeze-dried bloodworms
UVB Lighting: Not required
Temperature Range: 60⁰F to 70⁰F (15.6 – 21⁰C)
Minimum Tank Size: 10 gallons

The Tomato Toad is one of the smallest pet toad species. They are round and red in color, much like a tomato. They can live in a variety of habitats, are very adaptive, and make a great pet for beginners.divider- frog


Toads can make great pets under the right conditions. You’ll need to keep in mind that they do not like being handled and can secrete a toxic substance from their skin and tend to pee when they are scared and on the defensive.

All toads are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Salmonella, so you will always need to wash your hands before and after handling a toad.

Toads can also absorb harmful chemicals through their skin, so you’ll need to be mindful for their sake as well prior to handling them with bare hands. They can be easy to care for and make unique, cute, observable pets.

Featured Image Credit: Kathy_Büscher, Pixabay

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