If you’ve ever come across tiny toadlets hopping around your yard or garden, you may have wondered: what do baby toads eat? Providing proper nutrition is crucial for these young amphibians to grow big and strong.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: baby toads eat small live insects and other invertebrates like fruit flies, pinhead crickets, small worms, and mosquito larvae.

Ideal Foods for Baby Toads

Small Live Insects

Baby toads thrive on small live insects as their primary food source. Insects provide an excellent source of protein and nutrients that aid in proper growth and development. Some popular insect choices include fruit flies, pinhead crickets, and mealworms.

These should be sized appropriately to fit inside the tiny mouths of baby toads.

Fruit Flies

Fruit flies are a perfect first food for newly morphed toadlets. Their tiny size makes them easy for the babies to consume. Fruit flies can be purchased from pet stores or online retailers that supply reptile and amphibian feeders.

They are typically sold in cultures that allow them to reproduce, providing a steady supply of flies. Be sure to only feed an appropriate amount to prevent waste.

Pinhead Crickets

As baby toads grow, slightly larger prey like pinhead crickets become ideal. Pinheads are newly hatched crickets that are smaller than 1/8 inch. Their small size makes them manageable meal for growing toadlets. Pinheads can be purchased from pet stores or breeders.

Offer size-appropriate crickets daily or every other day for optimal nutrition.

Mealworms and Waxworms

In addition to insects like crickets, mealworms and waxworms make excellent supplements. These soft-bodied larvae provide variety to the diet. Both can be purchased in small sizes for baby toads. However, they should be offered more sparingly than crickets, as too much can lead to obesity.

A few times a week is sufficient.

Mosquito Larvae

For a more naturalistic option, mosquito larvae gathered from clean aquatic habitats can work too. This mimics the native diet of wild toadlets. Just ensure larvae are washed and gathered only from pesticide-free sources. While convenient, larvae should be supplemental, not the sole diet.

How to Feed Baby Toads

Use Small Containers

When feeding baby toads, it’s important to use a very small container that they can easily access and get in and out of (1-3 inches across is ideal). These small amphibian babies are tiny and don’t have strong mobility, so providing them a scaled-down feeding dish makes finding and catching food simpler.

Special terrarium feeding bowls designed for dart frogs or newts work perfectly.

Only Provide What They Can Eat

Don’t overload the feeding container, as uneaten food will dirty the water. Give baby toads only what they will consume fully at each meal. A good general rule is 5-10 small insects per baby toad. Remember that their bellies are minute at this juvenile stage! Monitor to learn their appetite.

As they mature, the prey quantity can gradually increase.

Remove Uneaten Food

It’s vital to remove and replace any fruits, vegetables, or prey items that were not eaten within a few hours. Old food will decompose, ruining water quality quickly in a miniature water feature. Rinse the habitat decorations and feeding bowl to eliminate waste buildup.

Maintaining high water cleanliness is crucial for these sensitive baby amphibians while their immune systems strengthen.

Supplement with Calcium and Vitamins

In addition to live foods, occasionally dust prey with specially-formulated amphibian supplements (like Repashy Calcium Plus) for optimal nutrition. This provides an excellent source of calcium for proper bone development in juveniles.

Do this supplementation at every other or every third feeding for the first few months. As they grow, scale back to dusting prey weekly or biweekly depending on size and age.

Age Supplement Frequency Recommendation
0-3 months Every other feeding
3-6 months Every third feeding
6+ months Weekly

Following these methods of providing bite-sized meals in a little dish, cleaning up promptly after feeding, and supplementing prey items with powders will help raise robust baby toads! Their proper development in these early stages sets the tone for a long, healthy life.

When to Start Feeding Baby Toads

After Absorbing Tadpole Tail

Young toads, known as tadpoles, feed themselves in the water after hatching until they begin to morph into tiny toads. At this stage, the tadpole’s tail starts to get absorbed into the body in preparation for an amphibious life (Josh’s Frogs).

This is usually the first milestone hinting at the necessity for more direct food sources. Caregivers will notice the tadpole slowing down, hiding more, and coming up for food frequently – signs it requires alternative nourishment.

When Front Legs Emerge

Another key indicator baby toads need feeding is when their front legs first emerge during metamorphosis. The two front legs will begin to protrude while the tail continues to shrink. At this exciting point, young toads can no longer effectively hunt food as tadpoles but also lack the full means to chase prey on land.

Supplemental feeding helps bridge the gap. Most experts, including the Amphibian Foundation (Amphibian Foundation) recommend placing tiny, live insects like fruit flies directly in front of the morphing toadlet 2-3 times per day.

Look for Begging Behavior

As baby toads complete metamorphosis, losing the tail and gaining back legs, their hunting instincts kick in and they will begin snapping at any movement in anticipation of feeding time. According to Reptile Centre (Reptile Centre), this innate “begging behavior” is present in all young amphibians when they transition to air breathing and leave their aquatic environment.

Caregivers should watch closely for early signs of food begging such as increased activity, a lowered body in preparation to pounce, and a sideways shuffling motion. Responding quickly with tiny insects helps ensure the baby toads receive vital nutrition during this vulnerable phase.

How Often to Feed Baby Toads

Feed 1-2 Times Daily

Baby toads, also called tadpoles or polliwogs, should be fed small amounts of food 1-2 times per day while they are growing (Reference 1). This feeding frequency allows their digestive system to process the food properly. Overfeeding can lead to health issues in tadpoles.

When tadpoles hatch, they survive on the yolk from their egg for 48-72 hours. After absorbing the yolk, they will need to start eating external food sources to continue growing. Their first meals should consist of foods specially made for tadpoles.

Provide Small Portions

Only provide as much food as the tadpoles can consume within a few hours. Uneaten food starts to break down quickly in the water, causing ammonia spikes which can be toxic (Reference 2). Their digestive system works best with small, frequent feedings instead of large portions.

A good rule of thumb is to feed an amount about as big as the tadpoles head each time. Observe if they eat all the food right away or if uneaten food remains. Adjust the amount at the next feeding as needed.

Watch for Signs of Overfeeding

Overfeeding tadpoles can cause health problems like:1

  • Bloating or swelling of the belly area
  • Lethargy – tadpoles stop swimming actively
  • Sinking – healthy tadpoles should swim actively near the top
  • Trouble molting between growth stages

Additionally, uneaten food will contaminate the tank water, creating a toxic environment. Perform partial water changes right away if you notice signs of overfeeding. Then adjust to smaller portions at the next feeding.

Age Feeding Frequency
Newly hatched 1-2 times daily
1 week old 1-2 times daily
2-4 weeks old 1-2 times daily
Over 1 month old Once daily

The ideal feeding frequency changes slightly as the tadpoles grow. But in their delicate young stage, small and frequent feedings are best.

Caring for Baby Toads

Give Them Hiding Places

Baby toads are very small and vulnerable when they first emerge from the water, so it’s important to give them plenty of hiding spots in their habitat. This will help them feel secure and reduce stress. Good options include:

  • Small plastic hides or cork bark slabs – These provide nice, cozy spaces for baby toads to crawl into.
  • Live or fake aquatic plants – These help break up sight lines and give cover.
  • Rocks, logs, driftwood – Stack rocks or wood to form little caves and crevices.

Just be sure the hides are appropriately sized for tiny toadlets. Having multiple options gives them choices and a sense of security.

Mist Tank for Moisture

Baby toads have sensitive, permeable skin that can easily dry out. Keeping their habitat humid is crucial. Here are some tips:

  • Use a moisture-retaining substrate like coco fiber or sphagnum moss.
  • Mist the tank at least once or twice a day. Aim for 60-80% humidity.
  • Consider an automated mister to maintain humidity levels.
  • Provide a small water dish for soaking, but supervise closely to prevent drowning.
  • Cover part of the screen top with plastic or foil to retain moisture.

Monitoring moisture levels daily with a hygrometer can help you maintain ideal conditions. Proper humidity will prevent dangerous dehydration in developing toadlets.

Transition Habitat as They Grow

The needs of baby toads change quickly as they grow. Be prepared to adjust their habitat accordingly:

  • After 1-2 weeks, move them to a larger enclosure (10+ gallon tank).
  • Add bigger hides, plants, rocks, branches.
  • Increase water dish size.
  • Once 2 months old, can house in basic moist terrarium with soil, moss, and water dish.

Here’s a handy table outlining habitat guidelines as baby toads mature:

Toad Age Enclosure Size Humidity Hides & Plants
0-2 weeks 5-10 gallons 80%+ Small
2 weeks – 2 months 10-20 gallons 60-80% Medium
2+ months 20+ gallons 50-70% Large

Adjusting their habitat as baby toads grow ensures they thrive through each stage of development. With attentive care, those tiny toadlets will mature into healthy adult amphibians.


In summary, baby toads need a diet of small live insects and invertebrates to get the nutrition they need. Crickets, fruit flies, mealworms, and mosquito larvae are excellent options. Feed them 1-2 times per day in small portions and make sure to remove any uneaten food.

With the right habitat and food, your baby toads will thrive as they mature into adult amphibians.

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