There is perhaps no other creature that has been so mythologized, feared, and misunderstood as the toad. Indeed, the toad has long been associated with black magic, poison, and death. At the same time, however, toads have been considered symbols of fertility, love, and health by alchemists, gypsies, and all manner of ancient peoples. In a more modern context, toads have enjoyed increasing popularity as easy-to-keep, unique pets. With options ranging from the garden-variety American toad to the more exotic Oriental fire-bellied toad, keeping a pet toad can be an education unto itself, provided you learn the following valuable pet toad care pointers first!
While your methods of toad pet care will depend largely upon the individual needs of the species you choose as a companion, there a few basic “rules” that should be heeded. The first rule as that most toads don’t take kindly to being held or touched. While there is no truth to the old wives’ tale that says touching a toad will cause warts, it is true that toads will secrete a toxic, defensive substance from their skin when they feel threatened. To that end, you should always wash your hands if you must touch your pet toad, but you should also keep in mind that the reason your toad feels threatened in the first place is because you’re many, many times larger than it is! Toads are not wired to respond to affection like a cat or dog, therefore, they are best enjoyed happily dwelling in an enclosure that resembles their natural habitat as closely as possible-an appropriately appointed living space.
Your pet toad care success depends largely upon selecting a secure, adaptable home for your toad. Aquariums are always best, whether your toad is a land-dweller or a water lover as they allow for maximum viewing potential while keeping your toad safe from harm. Outfit your aquarium with a snug-fitting mesh top that will provide adequate ventilation, and ensure that your toad has enough room to hop and swim about. A good rule of thumb is that a single medium-sized toad should be given at least ten gallons worth of aquarium. Nearly all toads enjoy water to some extent-some pretty much live in it, climbing out only occasionally to rest, feed, or breathe while others spend most of their time grubbing around on land, entering the water only to drink or have a little swim. Once you’ve learned your toad’s species-specific preferences, you can devote your time to building a realistic habitat. For instance, if your toad is a native to wet forests, give him lots of leaf cover, moss, and a few lush, live plants to enjoy. If your toad is a prairie dweller, he’ll need flat rocks, a stand of tall grass, and a small pool to lounge in.
As you consider your pet toad care checklist, keep in mind that you’ll have to account for your toad’s dietary needs, even if you’re squeamish about things like insects and worms. Most toads sold in the pet store will enjoy a steady diet of crickets, provided the crickets are dusted occasionally with a vitamin-rich powder (also available at pet stores). Toads may also enjoy earthworms or wax worms. Some toads have considerably more exotic dietary needs, and may need to be fed mice or goldfish to maintain their health and happiness, so always take care to consult a reputable book or salesperson before bringing your new toad home.
While owning a toad may not be for everyone, learning the ins and outs of pet toad care can make for a rewarding, unique, and perhaps even magical pet ownership experience for those who are up to the task. As you learn more and more about the varying needs, habitats, and mythologies behind these fascinating creatures, you’ll soon be ready for a toad of your very own. Educate yourself well and head to the pet store. You may just return home with a new best friend.
By Barry Mcgee
About The Author: Barry S. Mcgee is a pet enthusiast. His site at: http://www.squidoo.com/petcareonline provides advice and information on all aspects of pet care for all types of pets including dogs, cats, ferrets and others and makes it easier for pet owners to choose the best solution for their companion’s care. For answers to all your pet care questions, please visit: http://www.squidoo.com/petcareonline