The ultimate Bumblebee Toad care sheet
The bumble bee walking toad is one of the coolest pet toads you could have. Bumblebee toads are not shy, they are active during the day and they are super easy to care for. In this care sheet we will detail everything you’ll need to make your toads thrive in their environment from terrarium setup, care, feeding to breeding and raising tadpoles.
What is a bumble bee toad?
Their scientific name is melanophryniscus klappenbachi, with common names being bumble bee walking toad or just bumblebee toad (years ago red bellied toads) they are a species of toad from the family Bufonidae. A small toad with distinctive black and yellow marking that resemble those of a bumblebee. Bumblebee toads can be found in a variety of habitats from the grassy hills and plains of the northern half of Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Bumble bee toads are small (about 2 inches) with females being a tiny bit bigger, an actual black toad with a jet black body all speckled with bright yellow spots (bumblebee) and bright orange toes. They are active during the day and spend most of their time hanging out in the shade with each other and never really in any hurry to walk from one place to another (walking toad) and they do actually just walk around, no hopping like a normal toad.
These toads are listed as a species of least concern and Not on any endangered list with the wild populations actually thriving due to these guys being like little super toads that have adapted to living in close with humans.
Bumble bee toads have been available in the pet trade for over 20 years, every so often imported wild caught toads would pop-up on price lists or at pet shops (as red bellied toads) but never really got the attention that they deserved until recent years when hobbyists began producing captive bred toads.
Bumblebee toads for sale
We would like every one to get their bumble toads from us but the truth is we can’t supply the demand so availability is limited. You can check if we have any ready to go at the link below and you can also sign up to be notified when they do become available.
Captive bred bumble be toads for sale at Froskr
We only recommend captive bred toads for pets as ‘wild-caught’ or ‘farmed’ animals can have a host of problems you wont find in captive animals. Do your research, read every review and ask questions. Any breeder should be more than happy to tell you about their captive bred toads. The sad fact is that these toads are still imported from the wild because the demand is high and the difficulty in breeding them. Many of these large ‘reptile’ stores are just reselling imported animals.
Also note that captive bred toads can also have orange toes. A common misconception is that only wild-caught toads have orange toes and that offspring will lose their orange color being bred in captivity is false!
Setting up a bumblebee toad enclosure
When choosing the right terrarium keep in mind you’ll need a minimum of 10 gallons for every 1-4 toads, while they are small and not aggressive with each other they do still like to walk around and stretch their legs in the morning, so bigger the better. A bioactive or living setup is highly recommended in order to maintain the toads healthy environment.
The common exo-terra, zoo-med or thrive terrariums found at pet stores will all work well, a regular 10-20 gallon aquarium works great too, what ever your budget affords.
Next you will need to partially cover the top in order to maintain some humidity, a good place to start is half covered with glass and the other half screen… it can not be totally covered as these toads require some airflow.
The substrate should be something that is smooth without any chunks or small debris that could rub a toads skin wrong, a low draining sandy dirt that holds moisture is best. Our forest soil is specifically made for these toads and has a mixture of fine peat moss, milled sphagnum moss and smooth sand. Reptisoil is another blend that works well.
Leaf litter is Not recommended with these toads, area’s of high moisture and low airflow is not good for their skin.
A cleanup crew consisting dwarf isopods is highly recommended. The isopods will come out at night and take care of janitorial duties while the toads sleep. Larger species of isopod can bite sleeping toads so they are best avoided. Springtails can be added but they typically need more humid conditions and layers of leaf litter to thrive inside the enclosure. With proper ventilation and airflow there shouldn’t be any mold for them to feed on.
Live plants are essential in order to maintain temperature and humidity while also providing some relief from the lighting during the day. Most common tropical houseplants will work just avoid anything too delicate or that requires you to sustain a high humidity. Ferns, pathos, philodendrons and and other or creeping plants do well. Please don’t use plastic plants…
Using hardscape accents like rocks and wood help toads feel comfortable, you want to create areas where they can ‘back in’ and tuck away for the night. Toads will take full advantage of any cracks or small crevices that they can find. These toads love stones.
Water & misting
Misting for a short time once a day in the morning is recommended, its good to give everything a quick rinse and dry, just aim for everything (including the top of the substrate) to dry out with 1 hour. The toads will regulate their moisture level themselves in the substrate.
A small water bowl can be offered if you have trouble keeping misting on schedule.Be sure its just deep enough for the toad to stand in head above water, these toads do float and can swim their but skin needs to be dry most of the time and floating encourages breeding mode.
Water features should be avoided as to not confuse the breeding season and stress the females… if there is enough water to sit in, the males are going to try and breed in it and could lead to exhaustion and drowning.
Temperature & humidity
Maintain a humidity of 55%-70% with temperatures between 72-78 and while these guys can handle some extreme weather they seem to be most happy with moderate room temps just not getting too hot or cold. Mist only once per day lightly soaking everything including the toads while allowing everything to dry within a couple hours, you want a slight touch of moisture if you dig in the substrate but not so much to where there is condensation on the walls though-out the day.
Feeding bumblebee toads
A bumblebee toads diet should consist of small insects like fruit flies every day for young toads and every other day for adults. Isopods and springtails will be eaten given the opportunity but large isopods and crickets crickets should be avoided due to their tendency to bite a sleeping toad. We keep dwarf isopods and springtails as a clean up crew without any problems.
Supplements for toads
Proper supplements are important, dust food at every feeding with a high quality all-in-one vitamin like Dendrocare, Birkhahn or Amphib. Avoid mixing brands or products that are made for reptiles.
Breeding bumblebee toads
Breeding bumble bee toads is no easy task… it does require planning ahead and meeting some very specific needs in order for a high rate success. I am aware there is conflicting information out there, but this is MY experience in breeding thousands of these toads over the last decade.
Points to keep in mind
- Each female can have 50-100+ eggs at a time.
- You will need TINY food (springtails) and lots of it.
- You will need aquatic plants.
- You really should have ‘cycled’ water. (Youtube ‘cycling an aquarium‘ to get a better understanding)
Cool down period
- Begin by feeding every 3-4 days, reducing the misting schedule to every 2-3 days and gradually lowering temperatures by 15-20 degrees over the next 30 days.
- Keep your toads at this schedule for 2-3 weeks and let them rest.
- Gradually start raising the food, misting and temperature back to normal over the next 2 weeks.
- Feed heavy daily, mist 2-3 times daily and keep temps about 76 for 2-3 days, you may notice the toads start calling (they are actually loud) during misting. Be sure any water bowls have been removed by this point.
We try and follow the actual weather pattern in our area (Arizona) leading up to monsoon season, it does seem to help when its raining outside and the barometric pressure changes.
Set-up a ‘rain chamber’
We use a rain-chamber that is a separate (20 gallon) tank with about 4 inches deep of water. Its best to setup at least 1-3 months ahead of time so beneficial bacteria can establish and the water is fully cycled. I run my ‘rain chamber’ all year long, it doubles as kind of a paludarium the other 11 months. I don’t keep any other animals or fish other than some snails. The snails actually feed the cycle and help clear un-eaten food I hate looking at then but they are a decent clean-up crew.
Aquatic plants are a must, the more the better… anubias petite, most bucephalandra, and small crypts all work well. Plants will help remove ammonia from the water and tadpoles will feed on algae and decaying plants. During the first few days tadpoles will feed on decaying organic matter and bacteria in the tank before they move on to food, this period is very important as your basically on a ‘countdown’ now and need to pack as much food into each tadpole as possible, every hour matters.
Plants above the water are also very important. Plant species like Pothos and philodendrons are perfect for this as you can just put the stems in the water and they will grow. These give some places to hide and will also help pull any nutrients from the water.
Rocks and cork bark
I add large aquarium stones so some part reaches out of the water. I also like to add pieces of ‘cork bark flat’ as little floating islands. Your looking to give the toads multiple spots that they can get out of the water and rest. Stones will grow algae on them that tadpoles love and wood breaks down slowly releasing beneficial tannins and grow a biofilm that tadpoles also like to feed on.
Catappa (indian almond) leaf
These leaves provide much needed tannins and essential minerals back to the water while buffering ph levels. These tadpoles DO NOT require pristine clear water, that’s a myth they actually like water a little dirty just not with the ammonia levels of a sewer.
Canister filters are the only safe way to have every thing outside of the tank and still have enough room for biological filter media. You want there to be very minimal to no flow across the tank and make sure the inlet is covered with a sponge or mesh (tadpoles are tiny).
Keep in mind there will be 100-200 tadpoles and these guys can foul the water fast, when the water gets worse they begin to slow down and eat less. I use the Aquael Multikani 800
Let it rain
Once every thing is all setup and established you can add the toads. Misting in the rain chamber helps to get them started and toads will begin calling before going into amplexus. They may spec the next 24 hours attached before eventually laying about 50-100+ eggs. Toads should not stay in the rain chamber for more than 48 hours, if there is no calling or eggs go ahead and remove the toads and try again in a few weeks.
Bumblebee toad call
So many eggs
Once the eggs have been laid the toads will begin to separate and you can remove them from the rain chamber now. The eggs will begin to develop in 24 hours and hatch in 48 to 72 hours. During this time its super important to keep the water temperature at 75-76 degrees.
Tadpoles will eat algae and decaying debris from plants for the first few days, after that you need to feed a quality algae based fish food. From my experience I can not find anything better than a combination of seramicron and repashy’s soilent green.
These tadpoles eat all day long, there should always be food available during the day or you risk cannibalism. Because they eat not stop and have such a fast metabolism they are constantly fouling the water. Its best if you have had your tank setup for a month or more so the beneficial bacteria is well established removing ammonia and buffering the water to safe levels.
A 25% water change every day for the last will help keep ammonia levels safe.
After a couple weeks the tadpoles will begin to leave the water but not all at once, over a few days to a week they will slowly walk out on land and should be removed as soon as possible. Exhausted babies can go back in the water and drown so once they are out ‘they are out for good’.
Small pieces of cork flat floating around work well to give them a chance to crawl out on something and you can just remove the entire cork and place it in your grow out tank.
The first 2 weeks
I separate new toads into shoe-box containers by the date that they came out of the water, each day is a new container.
Day 1: fresh out of the water toads should be put onto wet sphagnum moss for 24 hours… it needs to be wet enough that it won’t stick to their wet skin. I like to add a single large leaf (like copoazu leaves) to hide under.
Day 2: you’ll notice tails should be gone and the toads are beginning to stand up and walk around under the leaf. You can go ahead and a some (not many) springtails.
Day 3: Feed a decent amount of springtails now, they should readily take food if it gets close enough. You can begin letting the sphagnum moss dry a little.
Days 4-14: Continue letting the moss dry out more just keeping it moist and not wet now. Keep adding springtails daily, it helps if you add a little springtail food to attract them and the toads will learn to gather around.
Baby toad care
After a couple weeks you’ll notice their skin goes from a wet black to a dry flat black at which point they can be moved to another tank with proper substrate.
It may take more than a month before baby toads can begin eating fruit flies, as soon as they begin continue feeding melanogaster fruit flies daily with supplements every feeding for the first 6 months.
Common questions about bumble bee toads
Can I use a dart frog setup?
No, they can’t handle the high humidity and low ventilation of a dart frog vivarium.
Can I mix bumble toads with other animals?
While bumblebee toads do well in groups they should Not be kept with other species.
If they can swim can I add a water feature?
No, water makes them want to breed and constant attempts to breed will stress females.
Are bumblebee toads loud?
Yes, they can be… for the most part the stay silent but during breeding season or sometimes if its rains outside they will call and its pretty loud considering their size.
Are bumble bee toads poisonous?
No, bumblebee toads are totally harmless.
How big do bumblebee toads get?
Bumblebee toad size is about 1 1/2 to 2 inches full grown, females being bigger than males.
Thanks guys for a detailed care guide
That covered all questions and more!