Eastern American Toad Care Sheet

Eastern American Toad Care Sheet

Eastern American toads (Anaxyrus americanus americanus) are 2"-4” long, terrestrial, primarily nocturnal amphibians. They are native to North America and can be found along a lot of eastern United States and parts of eastern Canada. They are extremely hardy and adaptable, but their preferred habitat is forests and fields located near ponds or lakes.

Eastern American toads have squat bodies, large mouths, short legs, and bumpy skin. They have a kidney-shaped parotid gland behind each eye. These glands are filled with toxins that release a milky-white substance. Their warts/bumps on their hind legs are also tipped with spines that contain toxins.

Eastern American toads are beginner-level pet amphibians due to their general hardiness and docile temperament. With good care, they can live up to 7 or more years!

Minimum recommended enclosure size for eastern American toads

The recommended minimum terrarium size for an eastern American toad is a 20 gallon long for a single toad. If you plan to keep more than one, we recommend a 36"Lx18"Wx18"H (50 gallon) enclosure. Of course, larger is always better if you can manage it! Offering more space means you can provide a more varied landscape and more room for your toad to explore and exercise. However, remember that the ideal living conditions for toads will vary based on their needs and preferences. It is important to understand your specific animals to determine the best set-up.

Cohabitation (keeping multiple toads in one enclosure) can be done with this species. Please be prepared to provide more space for more toads as needed and watch for any signs of problems closely and be prepared to separate. We recommend keeping only one to prevent breeding and prevent unnecessary stress between toads.

Do eastern American toads need UVB?

Eastern American toads seem to be able to survive without it, but we still recommend providing appropriate UVB lighting as part of the setup. UVB lighting helps provide a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and provides other benefits.

The recommended UVB bulbs for eastern American toads are:

Be sure to house the UVB bulbs in a reflective fixture. Position the lamp over the mesh lid on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp, about 8-13” above the substrate.

UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so placing the terrarium in front of a window doesn’t count as “free UVB” — in fact it can make your terrarium too hot due to the greenhouse effect. Don’t forget to replace your bulb every 12 months!

We suggest leaving lights on for about 8-12 hours daily to follow a natural day-to-night cycle. You can also adjust the lighting based on seasonal changes, running it for more extended periods during the summer and shorter periods during the winter. All lights should be off at night.

Best temperature for eastern American toads

Like other amphibians, eastern American toads are cold-blooded, which means that they rely on external temperatures to manage their own body temperature and metabolism. Although amphibians are generally not as dependent on thermal gradients as reptiles, it’s still important to make sure your toad can thermoregulate as needed.

Eastern American toads should have a gentle “basking” spot. Usually around 78°F does the trick, slightly higher than room temperature. This temperature should drop down to around 70°F or more at night. Temperatures should never exceed 82°F or drop below 60°F. You can make sure you’re maintaining appropriate ambient temperatures with a digital probe thermometer. For measuring surface/basking temps, we recommend a temperature gun.

You can provide heat for your eastern American toad with a low-wattage heat bulb, placed on one end of the enclosure. We do not recommend colored bulbs or ceramic heat emitters (CHE), as these are not as effective. If the bubs are a little too hot, use a plug-in lamp dimmer or rheostat to reduce output. If the bulbs are not hot enough, you will need a higher wattage. Each animal may have different preferences and needs, so you may need to adjust these ranges up or down slightly to accommodate your pet better. It is good practice to monitor your animals and make adjustments as needed.

Best humidity levels for eastern American toads

As amphibians, eastern American toads can’t live without ready access to water, especially when they’re still just tadpoles! They are not very picky about humidity, though they will not enjoy a dry enclosure! We suggest an air humidity between 50-80%. Humidity can be measured via digital probe hygrometer, with the probe placed in the middle of the terrarium.

You want to provide a water dish or tub large enough for your toad to sit in. You want to make sure it is deep enough for them to sit in, but not fully immerse. Waste and debris will need to be removed daily, and the dish or tub itself will need to be removed and scrubbed with animal-safe disinfectant once a week. The new water should be treated with dechlorinator before replacing — never used distilled or reverse-osmosis water for your toad!

If you notice that humidity levels have become too low for some reason, you can increase humidity by misting the enclosure with a spray bottle. A cool mist humidifier connected to a hygrostat can also help where needed.

Best substrate for eastern American toads

Providing a thick layer, at least 3" deep, of naturalistic substrate (“bedding”) will help maintain correct humidity levels and helps make your enclosure more attractive! We recommend the following substrates for eastern American toads:

Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate. Substrate should be totally replaced every 2 months if you are not running a bioactive setup.

How to decorate a eastern American toad terrarium

An empty enclosure makes for a bored toad, reducing its quality of life. Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment with the strategic use of décor items that encourage it to exercise natural behaviors!

Décor options for eastern American toads include:

Make sure your toad has plenty of covered areas to retreat to when it wants privacy.

What to feed to eastern American toads

Eastern American toads are insectivorous, which means that they need insect-based foods in order to get the right nutrition. We suggest each adult toad to be fed about 2-6 appropriately-sized insects every other day. Younger individuals can eat daily. This is just a recommended average, as every individual is different. You may need to adjust the amount or frequency depending on your pet's needs and body condition. An appropriately-sized insect will be smaller than the width of the toad’s head.

Food options for eastern American toads:


You will want to provide calcium and multivitamin supplements to help prevent your pets from developing a nutritional deficiency. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on prey before offering.

How to handle your eastern American toad

Amphibians generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do, and eastern American toads in particular are generally a hands-off pet.

If you absolutely have to grab your toad, wear a pair gloves, use a small fish net, and gently guide the toad into a separate, well-secured container. This minimizes likelihood of escape or injury. And of course, make sure to wash your hands after working with your toad or their enclosure! Please remember, this species contains toxins that can cause quite a bit of irritation if you get it on your skin or eyes. They are also toxic to other animals, so be sure they cannot escape and be accidentally eaten!

*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!

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