Friday, April 29, 2011
Species of the Day: American Toad
Scientific Name: Bufo americanus
Adult Size: 2 to 4 inches long
Range: Primarily in the northeastern US, ranging westward to the eastern edge of the Dakotas and southward to the northern areas of the Gulf Coast states.
Habitat: Occurs primarily in forest and prairie habitats, in both rural and urban areas near a semi-permanent water source.
American toads are one of the most common amphibians in the northern United States and Canada. They can be a number of colors, ranging from light tan to brown-red to a dark olive-green. Their backs are covered in brown and black pebble-like growths or "warts", and their undersides are almost always a light tan color. There are two separate subspecies of American toads. They are both completely identical except for their adult size. The dwarf subspecies rarely ever grows over two inches long, while the main species will measure up to four inches long. Both subspecies are very easy to keep and are not hard to find either in the wild or at a pet store, and require the same care.
As with most Bufonid species, a low aquarium with ample floor space works well. A pair can be maintained in a standard 10 gallon aquarium so long as they are of equal size. Although it is unlikely that this species would be able to escape from an enclosure of this size, it is a good idea to provide a tight fitting screen lid to allow for ventilation and the prevent the intrusion of other pets. A substrate that allows American toads the possibility of burrowing is also a good idea for the successful maintenance of this species. A mix of sand, vermiculite and ground coconut husk or potting soil works best. The substrate should be kept somewhat damp in order to prevent dessication . A handful of the substrate should clump when the appropriate level of moisture has been attained. If the clump disintegrates in your hand, it may need a little more water; if water oozes out when squeezed, you may need to let it dry out a bit. A shallow water bowl should be provided at all times for soaking.
The American toad is diurnally active at times, and it is a good idea to provide artificial lighting to simulate a natural photoperiod and allow for proper metabolic activity. A fluorescent light, for instance the ZooMed ReptiSun 2.0 is an excellent choice, as it provides both a UVA and UVB light source, but does not produce excessive heat. It is imperitive to not let the enclosure get too hot, as these animals are extremely susceptible to overheating. As such, an undertank heater under one side of the enclosure works well to provide a little supplemental heat, never letting it get over 80 degrees F. Feeding American toads in captivity rarely presents any difficulties. A staple diet of crickets works very well for this species, with mealworms, wax worms, earthworms and small tomato hornworms can be used to proved and healthy and varied diet.