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RE: cane toad feeding

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Posted by: JackAsp at Wed Dec 19 02:22:13 2007  [ Report Abuse ] [ Email Message ] [ Show All Posts by JackAsp ]  

I have had mine since June and while she eats well I have never actually witnessed her doing so. I put the food, mostly nonclimbing roaches, in a dish that she can get in and out of but it can't, and she usually eats late at night when everything's quiet. A dark, prolonged, and private night cycle is important. I think having overhead lighting during the day is a plus too, only because it makes night time that much more appealing.

I avoid wandering food items such as crickets because I prefer spahgnum to the cocnut-based substrates but don't want her swallowing the long strands. Sphagnum, even when moist, keeps bacterial growth down and therefore you don't have to change things out and stress the toad as often. It doesn't bother worms, though, so a stool test is still advised. Mine seeemd fat and active and healthy but tested positive for nematodes; you never know with WC animals. Better a little stress early than a lot later. Anyway, I suggest a dish, unless you have a toad that absolutely goes nuts for crickets and doesn't like anything else consistantly. Start out with small, nonthreatening, wiggly items in the dish such as mealworms or waxworms, just to make sure the toad is using it. Then start trying discoids or silkworms or whatever good quality bug you can find that will stay in there. This not only allows you to know for sure whether something got eaten or just buried itself, but it keeps bugs from scratching at the toad and getting her annoyed instead of hungry. I suspect that if you start putting food in the dish right before the light clicks off you'll get better taming results than I have, but my random work schedule just doesn't make that feasible very often. But try to dish-train the toad, and then use the dish to introduce any new items, and she'll be more likely to attack them with confidence.

I use no heat source but keep my apartment pretty warm, so she's always at least 75 anyway. Also, I use moister substrate than is technically "necessary" for toads because she seems to prefer it that way. Moist sphagnum combined with a sheet of window plastic between the light and the screen keeps the humidity high enough that I can go weeks on end without misting, which is a plus as far as not bothering a new toad. Nowadays I'm trying to establish some live moss in there just for the hell of it, so I mist and she sometimes seems to even like it, but with a new one you want to keep it as simple and hands-off as you can. Once a day, preferably close to when they're most likely to get hungry soon, go in and change the water dish and put some bugs in the food dish. And then leave.

I've heard all kinds of suggestions for force-handling to get them used to you, but a recently caught wild animal has already had enough force-handling for a while. If they're too scared to even get hungry, being accepted socially by them is a pretty minor priority. Get them used to the cage itself first. Once they feel like they are in a reasonably comfortable place, then go to the next step, but try to let them feel that the cage is theirs rather than yours.

Mine was handled VERY badly before I took her in. As in, like, half of one of her front feet is just a scarred stump where it got chopped off somehow. I don't know how many owners she's had, or whatall she's been through, but I do know that she eats for me and seems to be getting pretty comfortable with her pen, finally climbing on top of the hides more often than going into them, for example, because I quickly accepted the fact that she won't be an actual "pet" for a very long time.

Also, the first good turnaround I saw in mine came when I moved her into a big three and half foot diameter clamshell cage I made out of a couple of kiddie pools and some screen. It seems just big enough for her, there's certainyl no wasted space though, and she's not even all that big. The heaviest I ever weighed her at was 17 ounces. She's less than five and a half inches long, and I can't imagine her being happy in a 40. I've got a 40 too, so I'm looking at it as I write this, and.. she'd hate it. The only reason even this thing I've got seems to satisfy her is that the moss is deep enough that ground level is up where it starts to widen. Just saying, you might want to use that 40 for something else and not even have to cover it, and get, if not an actual pen, then at least a 54 gallon tub at a hardware store for twenty bucks. I think they're like eight inches longer than the 40G and a few inches wider. Plus, plastic is less likely to overheat than glass if you decide to try an undetank heater, and the extra length makes for a safer thermal gradient. You can still toss a sheet of clear plastic and a long shoplight over the top for humidity and photoperiod, and be able to see and even reach right down through it (the 50 gallon tubs, I think, have the same floor size but are lower, so the toad would jump right out.)which will probably be less scary than scraping around taking off the top first every time you go in.

Sometimes they have specific pain-in-the-ass food preferances, too, and you've got to just keep trying different items until you find what they do best on. For mine, it's adult death head roaches (she likes the wings, apparently, the thicker shelled nymphs aren't gobbled as readily) and sometimes hornworms. She also really, really turned out to like silkworms the one time I was able to find any locally, although the number of them that a cane toad can go through is pretty absurd. She'll eat beetles, both mealworm and superworm, but I don't want to use either as a staple, and I'm not sure how quickly she'd tire of them anyway; I've only given her one here and there. And she loves mealworms and superworms, but, again, lousy staples. She does not eat earthworms, but she's eaten inanimate foods that I put in her dish for the feeder insects. The carrot I'm sure was an accident, but she was eating the cat food so regularly that I stopped using it and tried giving the roaches canned snails and canned grasshoppers instead. Turned out she likes the canned snails, so I use those to stick her calcidust to. The grasshoppers, she's rarely eaten. Can't say I blame her. They look pretty scary. But then, so do giant roaches...

I think basically it comes down to comfort, security, trial, and error.
0.1 Coastal Carpet Python (Boots)
0.1 Western Hognose Snake (Bebe)
0.1 Cane Toad (Hengo)
0.1 White-Banded Sheen Skink (Minerva)
1.0 Northern Diamondback Terrapin (Queequeg)


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<< Previous Message:  RE: cane toad feeding - Juile, Sat Dec 8 22:27:30 2007