About three months ago, I accidentally chopped the legs off a toad while mowing the lawn. Naturally, I felt like shit once I realized what I’d done. I figured he was done for, but out of guilt and wanting to be humane, I brought him in and set him up with moist paper towels in a critter keeper. I put a dish of water just in case he wanted any. I didn’t believe he’d make it through the night. His wounds were so bad I thought he would’ve died from shock.
Once I realized he was still alive, I began searching for info on treating wounded frogs/toads. I did inquire with vets if they would see a toad, but couldn’t find anyone who would. FrogForum.com became very valuable in terms of finding out about general care and emergencies concerning amphibians. I suggest it for people with both pet or injured frogs and toads.
Over the course of one month, maybe a little more, I treated this little toad’s wounds with Neosporin (Original Formula, with no painkiller, since that kind can actually kill an amphibian.) I kept him in a spare ten gallon tank I had with only paper towels as bedding, since dirt would enter and infect his wounds. I supplied a water dish, and fake plants to offer some cover. I would soak him in warm water every other day to keep him hydrated and help him poop. It wasn’t til weeks later I caught him soaking on his own. He had barely come out before then.
Covering the front of his tank with a towel for the first few weeks helped to give the toad a sense of security, and over time, I slowly removed it. I believe the process helped him to get used to me, and to his situation in captivity. Because of his injuries, he unfortunately cannot return to the wild.
I was actually quite concerned about getting him to eat for me while I treated him, since most injured wild animals are too stressed to do so. I was soon to learn about toads being famed for their gluttony. Maybe it was even a bit of spunk that this fellow had that helped keep him going.
He ate waxworms, phoenix worms, mealworms, crickets, and darkling beetles. I believe he has developed a fondness for mealworms especially. He never seems to turn them down.
He’s almost comical to watch hunting his food. When something catches his attention, he’ll cock his head to the side, then creep closer, and that tongue flicks out quicker than a blink. Here’s a video I took of him feeding a while back.
Note: I had previously incorrectly identified him as an Oak toad, but later discovered he was a Southern toad when he started growing larger.
Eventually, the wounds closed over, and finally I was able to give the toad some substrate to dig and burrow in. I use Eco-Earth coconut husk, and he has been burying himself comfortably ever since I put it in.
At some point when I realized this toad was now an unplanned pet, a name had to be given. And really, I think he had decided it for me. After numerous occasions of shooting jet streams of pee at me when he was undergoing treatment, the name “Squirt” stuck.
As I mentioned before, toads love to eat as much as they can in one sitting. Well, since his original ordeal, he has grown significantly larger. This is also what helped me properly identify his species as a Southern toad. They can reach average lengths of 3-4″ at adulthood. Considering his size then, and his size now, he may have been a juvenile at the time he was injured. He measured about 1.5″ maybe less then, and now he measures 2″, and is continuing to gain size.
He is also able to puff himself up, as toads do when they’re scared or annoyed by something. This can create the illusion that he’s bigger than he really is. This is how they discourage some predators from eating them, and if the animal still tries to eat them, the Southern toads can secrete a nasty fluid from its parotoid glands to make the experience very unpleasant.
There is also a defensive posture a toad can take if it expecting attack. It looks like the toad is preparing to headbutt, but it’s more likely that he’s positioning his glands for some predator willing to push its luck. Like when I break out my camera to snap a photo…
In the meantime, he has adapted fairly well to his new home. He is mostly nocturnal, but may come out during the afternoon for a soak, or just to check things out. He certainly hasn’t complained about the food.
Part of his care involves offering fresh water daily, since he dirties it each time he soaks. I also have to use de-chlorinator to neutralize the chemicals in my tap water that would make him sick or kill him. He also won’t eat anything not living, so creepy crawlies are a must with most toads and frogs. It’s not for the squeamish.
He is nocturnal, so he is fed in the evening, and I have a red light for added heat, and for viewing while he hunts. Toads don’t typically need added heat like reptiles do, but a few hours a day, or during winter months is okay.
I don’t know if Squirt is male or female, but he’ll be on the large side if female. Which means more bugs I have to buy. Yum.
For any further info on frog and toad care I strongly recommend http://www.frogforum.net/content/, as it helped me alot during the treatment phase of Squirt’s wounds.