I know what my toad can eat (he has an extremely varied diet to date), but I'm concerned about how much to feed him? Can he be overfed? How do we know if we are underfeeding him?
IMPORTANT: How often should I feed him? We currently feed everyday, at least one worm (our fall back if we don't catch anything else) or equivalent. Sometimes we feed him a dozen flies, or whatever we catch.
Can we wait a day or more to feed him if we leave for the weekend? What about a week if we leave worms in the terrarium? We are considering taking the whole terrarium over to a friends house when we go on vacation for more than a couple days.
Also, do they drink water? How moist should we keep the environment? Can he be dry or is that bad? We lost a very large toad a couple years ago because we accidently left him outside when we went away for the fourth of July weekend and his mud dried all up. He was sick and didn't recover after that.
Also, we fed that previous toad small frogs, which he gobbled up. Was that okay?
My kids love to put the current toad in the bathtub and play with him on their boats and things (while they hang over the side, not taking a bath, just playing). He seems to do okay. Is that alright?
Finally, he changes color when we get him out to feed him. Why? and How?
It is possible to underfeed or overfeed. It's hard to give an exact amount to tell you to feed. It depends on the age and size of the toad and the temperature at least. If kept at room temperature and the toad is say 5" long, then you might feed a few earthworms every day. If warmer, feed more. If less than 50 degrees F, don't feed as he'll hibernate if he's a temperate species. If he's temperate (native to an area with winters), he should hibernate in a cool area over winter. You didn't say what species that he is. I'm assuming he's a wild-caught American toad? If the toad gobbles up the live food quickly, you can feed more. If he loses interest, he's had enough. If the toad starts to look fat, reduce the feedings.
Toads can go a few days or maybe a week without food during warm months. In winter, they can go much longer of course. If you're gone more than a few days, I would have someone watch him. Toads may drink directly from water but not that often. They get most of their moisture from their prey. A small dish of water should still be there for a few reasons. First, the prey left in there need it. Second, it increases the humidity so the toad doesn't dry out. And finally, if he does become dehydrated, the toad may soak in it, absorbing water through the skin or drinking. Aside from the dish of water (big enough for him to soak in), the rest of the habitat can be dry unless you have a species of toad that likes it wet (mostly from tropical areas).
If the toad ate frogs, it probably wasn't bad for him but surely was for the frogs!
It's not a good idea to play with such delicate animals as toads. If they want to let him swim in some shallow water every once in a while, that's probably ok. But avoid excessive handling of the toad like jostling. Stressed toads will change color or ooze toxins from their skin (in most species, not enough to harm a human).
When removed for feeding, the stress of handling probably illicits the color change. As for how, I don't think I can describe exactly how. It has something to do with changing the size of chromatophores or something. Temperature changes also can cause color changes in amphibians.
Good luck to the toad and your family!
ok robyn covered most of it but if you feed him frogs, be very careful some frogs will be toxic to him and kill him, if when your last toad died while you were feeding frogs, it could have been the cause, see frogs and toads excrete toxins from their skin, this is the same reason you are told not to house different species together. for example my gray treefrogs, have toxic skin secretions and would kill my toads if they came in contact with them. if my toads ate one of themt hey would also die.
sao if you were feeding frogs that say werent deadly toxic but made him sick after a time of feeding him eventually too much toxins would be there and kill him.
toads will eat most anything, btu be careful if you feed large spiders they sometimes will latch on to youre toads fingers or mouth, it probably wonjt killt he toad btu they dont like to be bitten....my toad had that problem once and i decided nto to give him spiders that could beat him up because i had to pull his little toe out of the spiders mouth :(
also since they may be toxic to eachother therre are few frogs and toads tghat are harmful to humans. so you dont have to worry about him making you or your kids sick. i find my toads are very friendly but do not like fast moving, they do not like to fly....and they arent real fond of swimming however they like to soak in water alot, my 3 toads have little pool parties while im sleeping i think :P . they make really good pets but your children should be easy with him if he gets too stressed it can lead to death or illness. good luck wiht him they are alot of fun :)