How fast do the tiny toads grow?

The Question: I work at a farm in northeast Pennsylvania. I read your article about toadlets. I have been enjoying seeing hundreds of these mini toads as I garden. Mine are still only about an inch long. How long does it take for them to reach full size?

Submitted by: Victoria, Pennsylvania, USA

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The Short Answer: Victoria, glad to hear you are enjoying the toads. There are so many tiny toads all over my yard right now that I worry about inadvertently stepping on them. In northeastern Pennsylvania where you live, there are two toad species, the American toad (Anaxyrus americanus – formerly Bufo americanus) and the very similar Fowler’s toad (Anaxyrus fowleri – formerly Bufo fowleri). The easiest way to tell the two species apart is to flip them over and look at their bellies. If it has dark speckles, it’s probably an American toad and if not, it’s probably a Fowler’s toad.

toad-growth-chartBoth species start out as tiny toadlets, about 1 cm (3/8 inch) long. They grow rapidly in the first year and then slow down dramatically. By their second birthday, they are pretty close to full grown. Males generally begin to breed in their second year, females in their third. This chart is based on data for the American toad from Frogs of the U.S. and Canada by C. Kenneth Dodd. The book lists the size range of adult American toads as 5-9 cm (2-3.5 in.). The largest American toad on record was a whopping 15.5 cm (6.1 in.). Fowler’s toads are somewhat smaller at 4.5-8.2 cm (1.7-3.2 in.), with a record size of 9.2 cm (3.6 in.).

If your toadlets are already about an inch (2.5 cm), then they must have been early hatchers this year that have done very well eating small insects around your garden. Toads are pretty voracious insect eaters. One study estimated that an adult American toad could eat nearly 10,000 insects a year!

Sources: Dodd, C. (2013). Frogs of the United States and Canada. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Cite this article as: Pelletier, TC. (July 22, 2015). How fast do the tiny toads grow? Retrieved from on July 3, 2020.

14 thoughts on “How fast do the tiny toads grow?”

  1. hi I was wondering if you know how fast those
    a tiny black Brazilian toad with circles on top grow because im keeping some as pets, and I don’t know if their eating the bugs I gave theme.

  2. I saved a bunch of American Toads from my pond filter. They are now toadlets living in a couple nice habitats that we created. We want to keep 2 females. How old do they have to be before we can sex them? I know the difference, but, when can we tell?

  3. Hello, i have 5 toadlets i am keeping, they are fairly small and i was wondering since one of them is kind of a dark red clay color, then another is a greyish brown colour, then two are a dark grey/black colour, and the last one is a regular american toad brown. Do i have different toad species in the tank? i found them in the same place though.

  4. We found what I believe to be a Fowler’s toad last June( June 18’). Well my daughter wanted to keep it as a pet since we notice it’s front right leg was half gone. We don’t know what happened but it was already healed, he just doesn’t have his claw/hand. Anyways, it’s now the end of March of 2019 and he is still the same size? He’s only about an 2 inches, maybe less. Feeding him is a nightmare because he is so small. Finding things small enough to fit into his mouth is almost impossible. We try though! We buy mini crickets, pellets, mealworms, and he loves the little pillbugs! We feed him everyday but he’s just not growing. Is this normal?

  5. i found a toad in my basement. his/hear left leg is gone and already healed. my question is the same as jessica above.

  6. Hi Ariane, do you mean you are wondering what to feed it? Are you sure you want to keep it? You could just let it go. Toads don’t rely on speed or agility to catch food. They are “ambush hunters,” meaning they sneak up on things or wait till prey come to them. So a three legged toad can probably do okay. Tom

  7. Hi! I have three American (we believe) toadlets that recently came out of the water. The oldest has been out of the water for almost two weeks and is still refusing food. I’ve tried frozen (then thawed) bloodworms and flightless fruit flies. I can’t get him interested in anything. Is this normal? I know they can take time digesting their tail but I’m worried that he’s still not interested in any food. Any advice would be great!

  8. Hi Sara, I just tried to see if there were any good toad websites or toad forums online, but I didn’t come across any, so I’ll try to offer some suggestions based on what wild toads eat. It sounds like you’re already doing the right things. You can’t force your toad to eat, so it’s just a matter of waiting till it’s hungry enough and keep trying different prey items. Toads will eat almost any creature smaller than them, so any kind of small insect might work. They also love worms, so you could look in wet leaves for tiny worms. Very small pillbugs or sowbugs would also be good. Good luck! Tom

    P.S. This site has some good info on keeping toads, but not much on the tiny toadlets:

  9. Hi! I live in the country and we’ve always had toads around. But this year I am seeing many small toads, about an inch and a half in length. We are more than a mile from any water source but had a very wet spring and the farm field by our house had a rather a large area of standing water in it for almost a month. My question is two-fold. First, could have the toads come from that standing water? Second, will they stay here or move on? I have a very large perennial garden close to where the standing water was that is mostly native prairie plants and flowers. I have provided sunken saucer with water in them and they have good cover and all the bugs they would like to eat. I love having them around. One even lives on my patio.

    Your articles are the most helpful I have found on the internet, and I love how you take the time to answer questions. I share this toad fascination with my 96 yr. old neighbor who was an elementary teacher her whole life. A lot of what I know about toads came from her!

  10. Hi! How long does it take for babies born at the beginning of this summer to grow in captivity? I have a toad named Kermit and he is so small I have to take him to ant hills to eat! He lives in a small fish tank right now (9” by 5”) as he grows he’ll get a better tank, does this affect growth?

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