Bufo peltocephalus - Cuban Toad Care and Information
This page is devoted to housing Cuban Toad's (known under the scientific name of Bufo peltocephalus) , it's another article that belongs to the "exotic pets" category (articles that aren't dedicated to aquarium fish). In case you own one or more of these creatures, you're welcome to share your experiences at the bottom of this page!
Bufo peltocephalus is a variety of toad that shares the common name of “Cuban Toad” with a few close relatives due to their natural habitat being mainly located in Cuba, one of the larger Caribbean islands. They belong to the family of Bufonidae and can be found in the tropical forests, some specimens are also found in sub-tropical forests of Cuba. They can also be found in swamps and farming regions around this area. They are not classified as an endangered species but there populations are shrinking due to loss of natural habitat as more land is converted to agriculture etc. Their body colouration is mainly brown but they do display cream banding on their limbs and cream areas around their lower lip and chin. These are long lived amphibians, specimens over the age of twenty years are well reported so keeping one of these as a pet is a long term commitment. They can grow quite large so keeping them in an aquarium requires a generous amount of tank space to give them room to move and exercise, some female adults reach a length of 6.5 inches, adult males tend to be slightly smaller with an average length of just over 5 inches.
Like most toads, they are classed as nocturnal, in the daytime they tend to hide away under rocks or in small crevices becoming more active during the night-time hours, males are capable of producing an audible call when trying to attract females for mating or to warn other males away from their territory.
If threatened by would be predators they also have the ability to inflate themselves, this gives the impression that they are larger than they really are, the extra size prevents some predators from seeing them as a potential meal.
So we know about their natural habitat and their description, how do we care for this toad at home? The next section will cover this and will be followed by feeding suggestions and breeding information.
Caring for Bufo peltocephalus
When deciding to keep these toads as pets it is very important to choose a suitable container to keep them in, remember that these grow quite large so choose a container that allows them room. I would suggest one that is at least 24 inches in length, preferably slightly larger. The depth is not as important as the foot print of the container, if using an aquarium or large plastic container, the water level will never reach the top as you do require an area to allow the toad to leave the water, I like to use containers at least 24 inches in length and at least 12 inches in width. A tight fitting lid is a must, frogs and toads are excellent escape artists, use a lid that only has small air holes drilled into them and all other access points are sealed off. The container/aquarium will need to be cleaned thoroughly before use, this will ensure that you are not risking any diseases or infections still being there when you first introduce your toad.
I always like the natural look whether we are talking about aquariums or terrariums, the use of natural materials for the décor always seems to pay dividends in the long run and gives your pet the feel of being in a natural habitat which in turn helps to settle the occupant/s long term.
If you live in a warmer climate then there should be no need to artificially heat the container, even drops in temperatures during the night should not affect the toad, don’t forget tropical countries can even produce low air temperatures during the night time hours. If you live in cooler climates then you may need to consider adding a heat source by the use of a heat mat, only place these on one side of the container giving the toad the choice of occupying the warmer section or moving to the cooler section if it gets too warm.
Potting compost or commercial topsoil can be used for the substrate, these should be free from any chemicals and are ideal for retaining moisture in the container. There are a couple of alternatives such as coconut fibre or sphagnum moss and these can be just as successful, the personal choice is yours. Try to avoid newspaper or kitchen towelling, these can be difficult to keep clean in the toad environment and will soon spoil with faeces or food waste. Add enough substrate to fill the container to a depth of at least 2-3 inches and on top of this you will need to add some hiding places for your toad. These are necessary as the toad will hide a way a lot in the daytime, the hides will make the toad feel secure , offer a choice of more than one hide and various items can be used.
Hollow pieces of wood, terracotta plant pots laid on their side or even lengths of piping can be used.
For extra realism you can add plants, fragile plants will not survive for long so only choose robust and hardy specimens, nowadays there are some very realistic artificial plants that you can also use.
Lighting is not essential, sometimes bright lights can actually make your toad nervous so it is best to avoid these, placing the container near direct sunlight should also be avoided, keep the container or aquarium in a quiet corner of the room where human traffic is at a minimum.
A water bowl will need to be added, this is not for drinking purposes but for the toad to splash around in and bathe if it wants to, the evaporation of the water will also help with the humidity levels. If you are using an aquarium to house your toad, you also have the advantage of being able to create a small aquatic area in the tank without the use of a water bowl, placing a hidden plastic container into the substrate can give a very realistic effect, the water will need changing every couple of days so make sure that you have access to remove the bowl or hidden container for this purpose. Toads tend to require less humidity than frogs who need moist air around them, misting is used on a regular basis with frogs but with toads it is not always necessary, if you do decide to mist with a spray bottle, once a day will be plenty.
When you first add your toad to its new home, they are very nervous and skittish. They need to get used to their new surroundings and also to you approaching the vivarium for feeding purposes etc., allow them time to settle before spending too much time around their home, gradually increase this time once they are used to you and realise that you are their keeper and food provider.
Feeding Bufo peltocephalus
You may find that when your toad is first introduced to the housing that it may refuse food until it settles properly, this is normal so do not start to panic, they will accept food eventually. The easiest food to supply them with is insects or meal worms. Any food offered to the toad should be gut loaded and the food needs to be dusted with vitamin and calcium supplements, these are readily available from any high street supplier. The most common feeder insects used are crickets and feeding them live will get a better response from the toad. When gut loading the insects use fresh vegetables from the stores, avoid greenery from your garden incase they have been sprayed with chemicals and try to add some vegetables that contain carotene as this is converted into vitamin A which is highly beneficial to the toad. Feed the toads up to twice a week making each meal comprise of at least 3-4 crickets or a similar number of meal worms. Remove any uneaten food from the container after a while to prevent any chance of decay that could lead to infections.
Sexing and Breeding of Bufo peltocephalus
Sexing of toads is quite a straightforward task providing that you are comparing adult specimens, with nearly all of the toad species the most obvious comparison is the size, adult females nearly always grow larger than adult males. Mature males will also develop pads on their thumbs and the inside of the rear legs just prior to the breeding season, these are commonly known as “nuptial pads” and are an aid to the male when he clasps the female and holds onto her during the courtship process.
Breeding follows the same process for most of the ground dwelling toads so the information provided below should cover a general guide for anyone who wishes to attempt this as a hobby project but be warned, the female are capable of producing thousands of eggs that are capable of producing thousands of young if there are no natural predators to narrow these figures down. In the wild these toads tend to think about breeding after the winter months and the temperatures start to rise, this is normal between February to March and this can be replicated by allowing the toads to cool down over the winter months and then allowing the vivariums to warm slightly.
All that is required is an aquarium that has a medium to large footprint to allow plenty of room and add 5-6 inches of conditioned water. A few rocks should be added allowing the toads to climb from the water if they wish to do so and add some floating weeds to provide a cover for the toads, this will make them feel more secure. The male toads are capable of producing a mating call that is unique to that species, in the wild they can get confused and grasp another male, to overcome this they also have the ability to produce a different call warning the advancing male of this. The same applies if they try to mate with a female that is not quite ready, she can also emit a call warning the male toad away. If both parties are ready for mating the male will climb onto the back of the female and ensure a tight grip, this is where the nuptial pads serve their purpose. Mating can last an hour or a few hours dependant on the pair and during this time the male will stay clasped to the female while she lays her eggs in the water in a double string which differs to frogs as they lay their eggs in large clumps, the males will fertilise the eggs as soon as they are laid.
The eggs will swell and tadpoles will develop until the day of hatching when your aquarium will suddenly burst to life, tadpoles are avid eaters as they tend to grow quickly and can eat for long periods of time.
The tadpoles can be fed on chopped greens, crushed hard boiled eggs until they start to meta morph and produce limbs, after this time they start to turn into a carnivorous creature and demand meaty foods more and more, sadly this reflects in their behaviour towards their siblings as they will become cannibalistic. Now is the time to size the young keeping the larger tadpoles in a different tank to the smaller ones, they will all catch up in size eventually but it does take time. Fruit flies and small crickets will be accepted by the young toads and eventually they will soon accept the same food as their parents.
Keepers love to handle their pets, sadly with toads this is not always a good idea as they are not appreciative of constant handling, when you first handle your toad it may even offer you a present by urinating in your hand! These pets are more for caring for and observing, if you have handled the toads, always wash your hands thoroughly as they can excrete toxins from their skins and pass infections onto humans.
Keep their housing clean, good housekeeping will prevent your toad from catching most diseases and will make the life of your toad a lot more enjoyable!