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What do Baby Toads Eat in the Wild and as Pets?

Nicole Cosgrove

For years, many people mistakenly believed that touching a toad would cause you to grow warts! We know that’s not true, but toads have never received the same love that frogs get. Have you ever heard of a princess kissing a toad? Didn’t think so. Still, their popularity is growing, and people are starting to keep these carnivorous amphibians as pets.

If you’re planning to get a baby toad, you’ll need to figure out how and what to feed it. There are some differences in a baby toad’s diet if they’re in captivity versus the wild. But there are also some notable similarities. Starting at tadpoles, we’re going to discuss the main foods that toads will eat in the wild and in captivity, so you can be sure to feed your toad the proper diet.

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What do Tadpoles Eat?

Toads are hatched from eggs, but they don’t come out with legs. Rather, they’re born as tadpoles. They don’t even have air-breathing lungs yet, so they’re stuck in the water until they mature.

When a tadpole is first born, it will eat the remaining yolk in its egg. After that, the little tadpole will rely mostly on plant matter to sustain itself. This means eating algae and little floating plant particles. However, if there’s not enough plant matter for the tadpole, it might turn to cannibalism. While this is uncommon, it’s far from unheard of.

  • Yolk in their egg sack
  • Algae
  • Plant matter
  • Other tadpoles
Piggyback toads
Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

What do Baby Toads Eat in the Wild?

In the wild, a toad is going to eat a diverse array of food. They have varied diets and are open to eating pretty much anything that comes along that will fit in their mouth. Remember, toads are carnivorous, so they strictly eat living creatures. For baby toads, those creatures are very small.

Any type of crawling insect or bug is a great meal for a toad in the wild. They’ll munch on small crickets and grasshoppers, which will increase in size as the toad does. Even small mice are fair game for a toad, though they tend to eat these more once they reach maturity.

Worms of all kinds are delicacies. Mealworms and earthworms are common cuisine for these four-legged amphibians. As the toad gets larger, bigger meals also become available. Snails, slugs, and locusts will all be eaten if they stray too near to a large enough toad. Centipedes and flies aren’t safe either.

  • Centipedes
  • Flies
  • Bugs
  • Small mice
  • Crickets
  • Grasshoppers
  • Mealworms
  • Earthworms
  • Slugs
  • Snails
  • Locusts

What do Baby Toad Pets Eat?

For toads in captivity, nutrition looks pretty similar to that of wild toads. However, there are some foods that pet toads are unlikely to eat. For example, centipedes and locusts might be common meals for a wild toad, but you’ll have a hard time purchasing feeder centipedes from the local pet store!

You never want to feed a pet toad something that you caught in the wild. Though these insects are on their meal list, wild-caught specimens are liable to have bacteria, diseases, and more that can negatively affect your toad’s health. Even if it’s a food your toad eats all the time, such as crickets, you’ll want to stick to store-bought crickets and never feed your pet toad crickets that you caught.

You might notice that some of the insects on this list are different from what wild toads eat. A lot of that comes down to what’s available. Since you have to get sterile insects that haven’t been out in the world, only insects that are grown as feeders are appropriate.

Common toad
Image Credit: pixel2013, Pixabay
  • Grain moths
  • Small crickets
  • Pinhead crickets
  • Small earthworms
  • Mealworms
  • Ants
  • Fruit flies
  • Aphids
  • Leaf rollers

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How to Feed Your Pet Toad

You have to be aware that juvenile toads eat their food whole. If you provide prey that’s too large, they’re likely to choke. Ensure that the insects you choose are no larger than the width of your toad’s head.

Gut Loading

Also, make sure to gut feed the insects you’re going to provide for your toad. Gut feeding is the process of loading the insects up with nutrients by allowing them to feed on fruits and vegetables before giving them to your toad. This ensures that your toad is getting as diverse of a nutrient intake as possible.

Toad
Image Credit: CassidyMarshall, Pixabay

Buy from Reputable Sources

Though you want to make sure to purchase all of your feeder insects from reputable sources, you will have plenty of choices to pick from. And you should feed as many of these to your toad as possible. It’s a good idea to feed them different foods each day. For instance, you might feed your toad earthworms on Monday, crickets on Tuesday, Aphids on Wednesday, and so on.

Establish a Routine

Another good habit is feeding your toad at the same time every evening. Keep in mind that toads are nocturnal, so feeding shouldn’t be done during the day. Captive toads do best on a feeding schedule since they recognize routine. Your toad will be healthiest if you feed it at the same time each night; around nine o’clock.

One more good rule of thumb is to only feed your toad for 15 minutes. Put the insects into your toad’s cage and let it go to town. But after 15 minutes, remove anything that hasn’t been eaten. This prevents overfeeding and ensures that dead insects don’t rot in your toad’s environment.

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Things to Never Feed a Toad

While toads certainly need a diverse and varied diet, there are plenty of things that you should never feed a toad; wild or domestic. These foods can cause serious problems for any toad. Take salt or seasoning as an example. They can cause a toad to dry up and dehydrate, which could spell death.

You’ll also see that feeding meat to your toad is a terrible idea, even though toads are carnivorous. These animals only eat live meals though. They aren’t scavengers. You should take care to only feed your toad living insects, though you can also feed rodents when they’re large enough.

Make sure to never feed your toad any leftover human food. While this might be ok for dogs, it’s a terrible choice for toads and can lead to disastrous consequences.

  • Salt
  • Seasoning
  • Pesticides
  • Expired Food
  • Sugar
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Meat
toad's face
Image Credit: ekamelev, Pixabay

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Conclusion

Toads have a pretty diverse palate. In the wild, they’ll eat pretty much anything of an edible size that comes along. Worms, bugs, centipedes, slugs, and more are all tempting choices for a wild toad. But toads in captivity need more structure and safer feeding. They haven’t been exposed to all the same bacteria and could get sick from eating wild-caught insects. As such, baby pet toads should only be fed feeder insects from reputable pet stores to ensure continuing health and longevity.

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Featured Image: ROverhate, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.