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What Do Toads Eat in the Wild and as Pets?

Nicole Cosgrove

Even though most people may think otherwise, toads are actually frogs in disguise. They aren’t even classified separately from frogs in taxonomy. Instead, toads are just a specific type of frog with rough, dry, warty skin and shorter legs.

Like most frogs, toads are carnivores. They will eat anything that gets close enough for them to snatch up. Because of this, the actual diet of a specific type of toad will vary depending on the prey that is available in the area where they live. However, a variety of insects is sure to be part of the menu for any toad.

If you are considering a toad as a pet, keep reading to learn more about what your toad should eat at different stages of its life, along with how captive toad diets differ from wild toads.

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Toads as Pets

green toad in hand
Image credit: PxFuel

Frogs and toads are popular pets because they tend to be relatively easy to feed and care for. However, owning a toad comes with complications not always found with frogs.

One of the characteristics that differentiate a toad from a frog is the bufotoxin found in their skin. This toxin can mildly irritate skin, eyes, and mucus membranes, although the effects are rarely more serious than that in humans.

The same is not true of dogs. The bufotoxin found in some toads can be toxic to dogs. If you are a dog owner, you may want to reconsider keeping a toad as a pet for your dog’s safety.

You should also only keep toads bred in captivity as pets. Some species of toads are endangered because human interference has destroyed their habitats. Other toad populations have been depleted by humans capturing them for the pet trade.

Feeding Pet Toads

Like most pets, a toad’s dietary needs will change throughout its lifetime. Here are some tips on feeding toads from the tadpole stage through adulthood.

Tadpoles

Tadpoles are confined to the water until they develop legs and lungs. Their first meal is the yolk from their egg sack. After this, tadpoles will primarily eat algae and other aquatic plants. Some tadpoles will even snack on their fellow tadpoles!

Young

It takes most tadpoles about 2 months to become young toads or toadlets. Once they have developed legs, your toadlets can begin to eat solid foods. However, they must only be given small insects since they don’t chew their food. They can choke if the insects are too large.

Juvenile toads should be fed every day. Good options include small earthworms, crickets, mealworms, and pill bugs. When your toads are young, you should dust their food with calcium and vitamin powder to ensure they are getting the nutrition they need.

Adult

Like young toads, adults will eat a wide variety of insects. The adult toad needs to eat two or three times per week. The size of the insects can be a little larger than those you would feed a young toad. A good rule of thumb is to leave food in your toad’s enclosure for 15 minutes. Anything they haven’t caught and eaten after this time should be removed.

Some popular insect choices for adult pet toads include:
  • Crickets
  • Mealworms
  • Earthworms
  • Beetles
  • Moths
  • Ants
  • Pill bugs
  • Grubs
  • Slugs
  • Spiders

Adult toads also need calcium supplements so each meal should be dusted with calcium powder.

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Toads in the Wild

Wild toads are opportunistic eaters who will eat anything they can catch. There are about 580 different species of toad and the regular diet of each depends on what’s available where they live. Toads are terrestrial, meaning they live on land. They can usually be found near water, though.

Common Toad
Image Credit: Kathy_Büscher, Pixabay

Wild Toad Diets

One interesting difference between toads and frogs is that frogs have teeth while toads do not. However, this doesn’t deter toads from eating a wide variety of foods.

Some things wild toads will eat include:
  • Crickets
  • Ants
  • Dead fish
  • Tadpoles
  • Small mice
  • Small snakes
  • Slugs
  • Snails
  • Worms
  • Moths
  • Smaller toads
  • Smaller frogs
  • Bees

As you can see, toads aren’t picky. They will even cannibalize other toads if the need arises.

What Toads Shouldn’t Eat

Just because toads will eat anything they can get in their mouths doesn’t mean that they should. If you have a pet toad, you should never feed them rice or bread. Processed foods can also be dangerous for your toad as can most seasoned, salted, or sugary foods. A good rule to follow is, if it can’t be caught in the wild, don’t feed it to your toad.

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Conclusion

Toads can be kept as pets as long as they are not handled frequently. They should also not be captured in the wild and kept in captivity. When feeding your pet toad, stick to appropriately sized insects, and don’t forget the calcium powder. Following these simple guidelines will ensure that your pet toad is happy, healthy, and well-fed.


Featured Image Credit: blende12, 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.