Keeping Toads as Pets

Keeping toads as pets is not a good idea. Toads need very special care to survive. It's easy for them to find what they need outdoors, and nearly impossible for people to meet those needs indoors.

Toad Needs
The toad is a cold-blooded amphibious reptile and a close cousin of the frog. Toads have thicker skin than frogs, which allows them to live most of their lives on land.

During the day, a toad is concerned with two things: water and body temperature. Toads may sun themselves early in the day to raise their body temperature, but if it gets hot, they'll burrow into the ground in search of cooler, moister soil.

Toads don't drink like other animals, they absorb the water they need directly through their skin. That means they need a small pond or a source of water that they can reach each day. They are extremely sensitive to any sort of contamination in water and can easily become sick or die if they're exposed to chemicals or pollution.

At night, toads turn their attention to feeding. A single toad can eat 110 insects each night. Larger species may even eat small mice. Toads will only eat food that's alive and moving, so you can't feed them freeze-dried insects from a pet store.

Befriending Toads
The best way to keep toads as pets is to enjoy them outdoors. You can encourage toads to live in your yard by creating a habitat for them.

Building a toad house is as simple as burying a large clay pot halfway in the ground and adding some dried leaves to the bottom. This gives the toads a shelter during the day and a place to burrow if it gets hot. Be sure to use clay pots, rather than plastic, so the interior doesn't get too hot.

Make sure the toad village is in an area where pets cannot get to the toads. Toads are toxic to pets if they're eaten. You can put your toad habitat behind a chain-link fence; this will keep dogs and cats out, but the toads will be able to move freely through the openings.

Toads usually eat at night, so adding a small battery-operated light to the top of the toad house will attract moths, one of the toad's favorite foods. Use the bottom, saucer-part of a flower pot to make a shallow pool for the toads. Make one for each toad house. Make sure the saucers are filled with fresh water every day and try to keep them shaded.

Every few days, check the leaves in the bottom of the toad houses. If the leaves are matted down or if the toad dragged some of the leaves out, add more leaves for the toad. The more houses you build for toads, the more toads will stay in the area so you can visit with them during the day. The biggest benefit is that the toads will keep a lot of bugs, such as beetles, away from your house. They will also keep slugs out of your garden. 

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