SOUTHERN TOAD CARE SHEET Anaxyrus terrestris

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: Southern Toads are like a bouquet of toads! Ranging in color from dark brown to vibrant red. These toads have a tendency of being on the shyer side but overcome that when it comes to food! Southern Toads will try and eat anything that moves, but do not worry they do not have teeth! They may take a nibble at your finger but they mean no harm.


LIFE SPAN: 10-12 years

ACTIVITY: Southern Toads are mostly nocturnal, until the breeding season when they become active during the daytime. As the sun is up, Southern Toads spend their time resting in their burrows. At dusk, these toads emerge from their craters to explore, soak, and hunt. It is also common for them to spend days in their burrow or sleeping in their water dish.

ENCLOSURE: SouthernToads require a large amount of coconut fiber substrate for proper burrowing. I suggest 6-8 inches (15-20cm). Toads greatly enjoy burrowing into the roots of live plants. While this can kill the plant, it is great enrichment for captive toads. I have had good experiences with Parlor Palms, Alligators Ferns, and White Jewel Dracaenas. For a step by step guide to preparing plants for your enclosure, click the button below.

A hiding place is needed. Logs, aquarium décor, hides, and any structure that “hides” your toad on three sides is perfect. 2-3 hides are ideal to give your toad a variety of places to rest in. A large water bowl is needed. Southern Toads can be quite clumsy so having a bowl with a ramp in and out is ideal. Exo Terra and Zoo Med provide a variety of selections. Freshwater must always be available. This may mean cleaning the water daily! If using tap water, water conditioner must be used. This removes harmful chemicals and makes the water safe for your amphibian. Directions vary so be sure to read the label before using.

SIZE OF ENCLOSURE: I suggest at least a 20-gallon terrarium for two Southern Toads. Having an Exo Terra front opening enclosure is also extremely helpful and helps you interact with them in their environment. Also with these toads being shy, approaching from above can startle them. Instincts kick in and they believe a bird or other predator is attacking. An opening front allows you to handle at their level.

HUMIDITY: 60-70%

TEMPERATURE: Daytime temperatures of 72-80 degrees F (22-27 C) are ideal. A basking light is not needed. Southern Toads thrive at room temperature.

Nighttime temperatures should never drop below 60 degrees F (15 C), and should typically stay around 65 degrees F (18 C). A low watt heat emitter, scheduled for the times the temperature drops too low. Excess heat leads to the drying out of the enclosure and can be deadly to amphibians!

LIGHTING: UVB light is recommended but not a necessity. This helps improve your toads’ overall health and improves plant health and growth. A linear 2.0 UVB is best. Never use higher than 2.0, it is too strong and can harm your toad!

FEEDING: Live crickets or dubia roaches should be their main diet. An adult Southern Toad should have 10-12 crickets/dubias every two days. Dusting your feeds with calcium improves your toads’ health and growth. Mealworms, Wax worms, Red Wigglers, moths, and Phoenix worms can be given as snacks occasionally. A diverse diet improves your toads’ health.

What size crickets or dubias do I get for my Southern Toad? A general rule for feeding Reptiles and Amphibians is, the food in question’s girth should fit in between the animal’s eyes. Southern Toads do well with ½ inch crickets and dubia roaches.

HOW TO SEX: Males tend to be smaller and have dark colored throats. This is where their throat expands when producing a mating call. Only Males produce this high pitch trill.

Females tend to be large than males and do not produce any vocalizations.

SIZE: The typical length for an adult Southern Toad is 1-3.5 inches (2.5-9cm) but depends on sex as stated above.


Southern Toads are wonderful for beginners! In terms of care, they are extremely easy to keep but they are not the best option if you are looking to handle often.

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