Life Stages of a Toad

By Amy S. Jorgensen

Toads are actually a type of frog, so they share many similar characteristics, including the stages of their life cycle. Understanding these different stages and the toad's changing needs as it matures will help you raise and breed pet toads successfully.

Breeding Pet Toads

Breeding pet toads requires some preparation. Toads respond to photoperiodism, which means their bodies naturally respond to changes in the length of the day and night caused by changes in the seasons. You must replicate these changes in the pet environment to prepare the toads for mating. To do this, reduce the temperature in the living environment to the mid-60-degree F level and reduce the daily amount of sunlight to about 10 hours for the toads. Continue these changes for three months and then return the conditions to normal. The toads, at this point, react to the change and become ready to mate. Male toads croak to indicate their readiness to mate. The male frog will mount the female, squeeze her body to push out the eggs, and fertilize them.

Stage 1: The Tadpole

After the eggs are fertilized, carefully remove them from the adult toads' living environment and place them in a separate aquarium containing about an inch of water. Even though toads live on land, the tadpoles that will hatch from these eggs in approximately two weeks will live in water. When the tadpoles hatch, they resemble small fish and will get oxygen through gills instead of lungs. Toad tadpoles eat vegetation, so you should provide pieces of lettuce for snacking and sprinkle fish food into the aquarium.

Stage 2: The Maturing Tadpole

The tadpoles will continue to grow and change over the next several weeks. Their external gills will become internal as they move closer to being fully developed lungs. The tadpole will also start to develop hind legs. When you begin seeing tadpoles with back legs, you need to move the babies again. This time the young toads need an aquarium divided into a land area and a water area.

Stage 3:  Toadlet

As the tadpole continues maturing, other changes occur. For example, lungs begin to develop as do forearms. These developments allow the young toad to spend more time on land. However, you need to keep water nearby because the young toad can dehydrate quickly at this point. By 3 months of age, the tadpole has become a toadlet with lungs and will also have lost its tail. The toadlet can breathe oxygen by now. At this point, the toadlet looks like a smaller version of its mature parents and can eat by grabbing insects with its tongue. You can begin feeding toadlets the same food you would give the adults, such as live crickets. However, young toads should be kept in a separate aquarium until they mature fully because toads have been known to eat younger or more vulnerable individuals. The process of changing form from tadpole to baby toad is known as metamorphosis.

Stage 4: Adult Toad

In 12 to 16 weeks, the new toad will become an adult. This toad will be ready to mate approximately one year after the mating that produced it occurred. In the wild, most toad species live 5 to 10 years. As pets, adult toads usually live approximately 10 years, so you will need to be prepared to spend many years caring for your adult toad.