A lot of people are surprised to learn that toads are actually a type of frog, especially considering how different their lives are.
But this raises an important question for potential toad owners: What do toads eat?
Can you feed them the same foods as frogs or should you use something different entirely?
What Do Toads Eat?
Insects might seem like the obvious answer, but a toad’s diet is actually quite varied, based upon their size, age, and environment.
Possible foods range from bugs to amphibians, mice, and even frogs!
Let’s break things down to get a better perspective.
What Do Baby Toads Eat?
Unlike most frogs, toad eggs are laid in chains.
Some species even give live births.
The resulting toad tadpoles eat pretty much the same diet as other baby frogs.
This includes the egg sack for those that hatched.
Other foods may include diatoms, algae, and small insect larvae (such as mosquitoes).
A general rule of thumb that will last throughout their lives is that a toad will try to devour anything it can fit into its mouth.
What Do Toad Froglets Eat?
A juvenile toad is often referred to as a froglet or toadlet.
This is a pretty brief life stage where the toad develops its hind legs and loses its tail.
Thanks to their larger size and transition onto land, they’re able to greatly expand their menu.
However, during this time they also shift to a mostly meat-based diet.
A few of the more common foods at this stage include:
- Pinhead crickets
- Tiny fish
- Great alternative to live insects
- Great for reptiles, Tropical fish, birds, hedgehogs and sugar gliders
- Adds variety to diet
What Do Adult Toads Eat?
There are many species of toads out there, with true toads coming from the Bufonidae family an several others hailing from a number of frog families.
We’ll discuss some specific species in a moment.
However, let’s first look at a more general adult toad diet.
How to Toads Hunt?
Many toads are ambush predators.
This means that they will hide (some true toads will even burrow underground) and wait for potential prey to get close.
Once in range, the toad will pounce on the prey, using its tongue to quickly snatch up its unsuspecting meal.
How do Toads Eat?
There are many things that identify a toad, such as their bumpy skin or preference for dryer areas.
But there’s one big difference between frogs and toads most people never think about – teeth.
Unlike frogs, toads don’t have vomerine teeth in their upper jaw, meaning they have to swallow their prey whole like snakes.
As a result, they can’t eat larger prey than what will fit in their mouths.
Common Toad Foods
An adult toad will eat a variety of foods, often showing personal preferences if there’s a decent selection.
Some common foods include:
- Baby mice (and adults for larger toads)
- Garter snakes
- Slugs and snails
- Spiders (smaller toads will target the less dangerous spiderlings)
Even though adults no longer eat plant matter, they still need a balanced diet containing calcium and various vitamins and minerals.
This means they won’t eat just their preferred food when in the wild.
Also, toads won’t eat dead insects because these could potentially carry diseases or parasitic infections.
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Examples of Species-Based Food Preferences
As we mentioned earlier, some species have different diets than others. Here are a few examples of how these diets vary.
American Toad (Anaxyrus americanus)
A common sight throughout much of Canada and the US, the three subspecies of American toad make great pets.
They can live almost anywhere, but will rarely migrate once they find a spot they like.
You might want to let these critters hang out in your garden, because they’ll eat ants, centipedes, crickets, earthworms, mealworms, moths, slugs, spiders, and many other common pests.
Cane Toad (Rhinella marina)
This living fossil is the largest of the true toads, and it has an appetite to match!
Cane toads get their name because they particularly love eating the cane beetle (Dermolepida albohirtum).
However, they also eat a much larger variety of foods than most species and have adapted to living near humans.
Their diet includes:
- Discarded human food
- Pet food
- Small mammals
- Small rodents (mice, rats, prairie dogs, etc.)
Midwife Toad (Alytes spp.)
The five species of midwife toads have a unique method of preparing for childbirth.
The female lays her eggs, after which the male fertilizes them.
The then wraps the strings of eggs around his hind legs and carried them around protectively until they’re ready to hatch.
At this point, he carefully enters the water, so tadpoles can swim away as they hatch.
They can be found in both Europe and northern Africa, with some living on beaches and others high up in the Pyranees Mountains!
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What do Pet Toads Eat?
As we mentioned earlier, American toads make great pets, and you can take a female if you catch her while she’s still fairly young.
Males, unfortunately, don’t handle terrarium life well and should be released.
You’ll know the difference because females will generally stay quiet once in a terrarium for a day or two but males will keep talking.
But what do you feed your new pet once she’s settled in?
Well, if you have a section of water and some small hiding places, you can add some brine shrimp or tiny fish for her to hunt.
Crickets are also an excellent source of food.
Just be aware that captive-raised crickets often lack some of their nutritional value, so you may need to give your toad some supplemental vitamins.
Pet owners might also choose to provide super worms, mealworms, or other common reptile foods.
Can You Feed Your Pet Dead Insects?
Depending on whether you bought or caught your pet, you might have trouble feeding them some of the products we’ve recommended.
This is because a captive toad will usually prefer live food.
If you’ve raised her from a tadpole instead of buying her from a pet store, you might have luck with dead insects.
However, remember that wild toads avoid dead prey animals or insects because they may carry diseases.
The best option is to pick up a pack of dead crickets and see if she’ll eat them.
Common Mistakes When Feeding Pet Toads
Feeding time can be dangerous for your pet if you don’t do a little homework first.
For example, you should never give wild caught insects, as these can carry disease.
Try to offer her a wide range of food options, from wax worms to crickets to tiny aquatic animals (if you provide a swimming area for her).
You can also boil some baby spinach to feed tadpoles in captivity.
With the exception of spinach, you should never give your toad human foods, as these can make her sick.
Seasoned meat, rice, salt, and sugar are all really bad for our pet’s health.
Also, avoid feeding her during the cold period when she’s trying to hibernate, as this can also lead to health problems.
Tap water is also a bad idea due to the chemical content, so be sure to filter the water or use bottled water.
Finally, first-time owners often forget to remove any leftover food from the terrarium after feeding time.
A good rule of thumb is to put the live food in, wait 15 minutes, and remove anything she hasn’t eaten.
It’s rare for a toad to feed longer than this.