Obesity is a big problem for people, but it's a big problem for pets, too, including non-traditional pets like toads. Here are four things
Why do toads become obese?
Obesity is a common problem among captive amphibians, including toads. Many people believe that toads will only eat when they're hungry and aren't able to become obese, but this is just a myth. In the wild, toads will eat as often as they can, because they never know when they'll get their next meal. In captivity, they do the same thing, even though they're in no danger of starving. As long as there is prey available in their habitat, they'll continue to eat, so it's up to you to manage their energy intake. If you give your toad too much food or constant access to food, they'll become obese.
How do you know your toad is obese?
Amphibians don't store their fat evenly throughout their bodies. Most of their fat is stored in their abdomens, so if your frog is obese, their legs and tail may still look slim. However, when you pick your pet up to inspect its stomach, you'll see that the stomach is grossly distended and obviously obese.
If you're not sure if your toad is obese, your vet can help. Your vet will gently press on your toad's body to identify the size of the fat deposits, and if necessary, perform an ultrasound. These tests will determine if your toad is obese.
Is obesity dangerous for toads?
While there haven't been a lot of studies done regarding the dangers of obesity in toads, scientists suspect that amphibians suffer from the same obesity-related diseases that mammals do. When mammals are obese, their extra fat puts stress on their internal organs and can lead to problems like high blood pressure or heart disease. Also, there have been reports that some types of amphibians become blind due to poor diets and obesity. Until long-term studies are done to determine how dangerous obesity is for toads, scientists need to assume it is a health risk and your vet will advise you accordingly.
How is obesity treated?
If your toad is obese, your vet will recommend cutting back on the amount of food you give it. In general, toads only need to eat once every other day, and they shouldn't eat multiple meals a day like other types of pets do.
Allowing your toad to exercise can also help control their weight. In the wild, toads can hop across large areas, but in captivity, they're limited to the size of their terrarium. Upgrading their terrarium is an easy way to encourage them to exercise. Get the biggest terrarium that your budget and living space will permit so that your toad has lots of room to hop and play. To learn more, speak with someone like East Valley Animal Clinic.