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Caring for a toad with a broken and infected arm? Answered

Last weekend I found a toad with his arm trapped in a mousetrap.  I don't know exactly how long he was there, but I discovered him when I heard this shuffling sound from the back of my garage and heard flies buzzing.  Upon investigating, I found poor Toady.  The flies had already laid eggs on his wound.  He was trying to hop away attached to the trap.  

His arm is clearly broken.  He didn't have significant blood loss, but when I first opened the trap his tiny bones were visible at the injury site.

I put Toady in a small bucket lined with moss and vegetation, along with adding a little bit of water, and covered the bucket with a dishtowel.  I used cotton swabs dipped in saline to clean the wound and applied antibiotic ointment (Neosporin without painkiller).  I also tied a thread slightly above the injury site to act as a tourniquet and prevent further infection, and possibly allow for his limb to naturally come off.

Below the injury site is swollen, discolored and infected, growing a fuzzy fungus.  I've been checking on Toady every other day (I wasn't wanting to stress him out too much with frequent visits), cleaning his wound and infection and applying antibiotic ointment.  His arm is clearly dead weight and can't be salvaged.  

I've put various bugs, slugs/snails and worms in there with him but I haven't seen him eat.  I put a june bug in there, and the june bug ended up trying to climb onto him but Toady seemed to try and squash the bug with his chest and then hopped over the bug to the other side.  Maybe the beetle is too big for him.  I haven't checked to see if the other goodies I gave him are just hiding under the moss.

He doesn't appear to be losing or gaining weight.  He gets stressed whenever I visit, breathing rapidly and either trying to make himself look larger or do the opposite and huddle down, despite how careful and gentle I try and be around him.

I'm worried about predators and infection if I were to release him now.  What should I do/not do?  I think I'll try Craigslist here to see if there happens to be an experienced amphibian owner with the proper supplies to care for him.  I doubt any vet here would be able to do anything, and I don't have the money to do so.

Is this toad a male?  I thought he was based on his size since he's on the small size, but perhaps it's a youngster?  He doesn't make any noises with me, but I'm not sure if it was him chirping in his bucket or a nearby toad.  I know there's several right in the immediate vicinity.


Ok like Iceng said some amphibians regenerate limbs and he is right, this looks like a female common toad, and I am purity sure they don’t however they do well with a missing limb. Beyond her forelimb she looks in good health. Start by going to your local pet and aquarium supply and get some antibiotics, crush up the antibiotics and roll a worm in it and feed the worm to her. They are picky about what they eat live bugs and worms they love ant hills.

Give the antibiotics 2 times for a day, then heat up an iron, what you need to do next is the hard part, where the skin looks like the rest of her cut off her arm well behind the main wound quickly and cauterize the end of the stump. There is a heavy duty nail clipper that looks like side cutters, hold the toad in one hand snip off the dead limb and cauterize as fast as you can. Make sure you cut the arm off where the flesh is still alive then continue the antibiotics for two weeks. Most of her pain will be gone in a day so do not give her pain killers made for people they will kill her.

When I lived on the farm if we did not do the vet work before the vet got there or it was too late when he finally did. And good breading stock you bread and sell the offspring you don’t kill because the offspring still has all its parts.

Oh gosh, thank you so much Josehf for such a thorough reply, you are extremely helpful!

I got a reply from my Craigslist post too, and someone recommended "hospital grade" super glue, I presume to seal the wound.

Maybe I should make an Instructables of this! Though documenting it with photos or video will be nearly impossible as I'd be doing this just by myself. Maybe I'll do it old school, DaVinci style, and just illustrate it all.

I crushed up a prednisone pill (had the pills around. My mom doesn't believe in the 'take antibiotics even when your symptoms have improved' guidelines...and she feels that unless it smells bad then it's still good), and rolled a luscious worm in it and plopped that on the toad's head. In the time I spent watching her, she just let the worm wriggle away so I never saw her eat it, but let's hope it helped some. I thought prednisone was an antibiotic, but now that I read up on it I see contrary. Well, the toad was still alive and well today, so I didn't kill it. I hope.  Also, as a heads up, while a toad may love ant hills, they do not like it when you dump an ant colony onto them.

I do hope the vet is able to operate. It seems like a simple enough procedure, and I would do it myself, but upon gaining advice from locals on Craigslist I was able to find a professional source of help, so I'd rather such life-saving surgery be left to the pros.

The toad is currently at the Shelburne Veterinary Hospital in Vermont, should anyone wish to send her worms or crickets or other well-wishes.

I'm glad you found a pro.

Yea ants bite if they get mad, toads find a nice spot where the ants walk by all day and eat them as they pass.

Now that is funny I live in Shelburne Ontario Canada.

Give her our best wishes from the great white north.

Don’t close the wound right away leave it open, if you research the treatment of war wounds and debridement leaving the wound open is part of the treatment. Only close the wound after it starts to heal and all the dead tissue comes off like a scab, the hospital grade super glue would be good at that time if the wound is not closing by itself.

Photo before and after then do the surgery DaVinci style, and illustrate it, then you can update with photos a month or so later.

She will need to eat a lot of insects and the common toad doesn’t hunt it finds a cool dark log or a rock to lay under and waits for its food to come to him or her, when dinner stops coming to him or her they move on to the next place.

A flat rock or a piece of bark in the terrarium for her to burrow under will keep her happy. You can even make it like a Flintstone house.

This is one of my little garden friends.

Toad 1.JPG

Last summer I had a "garage toad," though he/she was much larger than this year's mousetrap toad.  Also, last year's garage toad was much more friendly and calm.  Though it also wasn't dealing with a mangled extremity.  

This was my garage toad last year:

Photo taken outside of garage, as whenever I would find it in the garage I'd take it out because I didn't want it drying up or getting caught in a mousetrap.  It seemed to like to come back into the garage at night and do its potty business right in the middle of the garage on these old car floor mats I used to sit on while working on projects.  Toads make giant turds!

Seems as though Giant Shed Toad is still here this season, so that's fun.  Though that toad is antisocial.  Or maybe it just didn't like me picking it up and trying to make it be friends with Garage Toad.  Well, all the more wormies for Garage Toad.


thank you Pompom. I haven't found a vet locally that will help. I went to a reptile store for help and bought her food but she still won't eat. Apparently sometimes in captivity wild animals won't eat. She looks like she's healing from her wounds but still won't. So my debate is whether to release her and hope for the best. I've tried feeding her all kinds of things and she's refused it all ?

I'm sorry im new to this site and don't know how to use it yet. I also have an injured toad that I don't know what to do. Back leg is completely off so don't need to remove a limb. But he/she is missing a chunk out of her/his face. I've been cleaning and putting antibiotics on it. I brought it inside and put it in an aquarium because I didn't want any predators to hurt it. I've tried feeding it worms but it won't eat. I wonder if the tongue is damaged. I don't want the poor thing to starve. What should I do?

I ended up bringing my toad to a local vet office that cares for a wide range of pets including small and exotic. I called ahead to see if they'd accept the toad and take it for free, and they said yes. The toad was admitted as a drop-off stray type surrender. I suggest looking in the phonebook/online for local veterinarian offices that treat amphibians (so, look for maybe some that say large, small, and exotic pets or something). The vet will try what they can to help it, but at the very least/last resort, bringing the toad to the vet can help humanely end its suffering. I'm so sorry about your little buddy, but I'm glad you're helping him/her out and I wish you guys the best.


5 years ago

So y'all know, I ended up bringing her to a nearby vet that I found out treats reptiles and amphibians. They let me drop her off as a rescue stray and said they'll see what they can do. It wasn't the most encouraging news, but at least they didn't say "no" outright, right? I worried that her being a "garden" toad rather than a "pet" toad would make any vet laugh and turn away, especially when I say I'm not going to pay for it. So is that where the "liberal" attitude comes in, iceng? :-P

How one treats the weak and defenseless reflects ones spirit. I hope she is doing well.


5 years ago

You are a kind and caring liberal.

Amphibians can regenerate limbs some times.
Let it fall off and feed it live crickets from pet store.


BTW fly larva are extremely useful, used in human hospitals to eat away
only dead tissue in extensive hard to clean wounds and retard gangrene. 

That is good to know! Looks like the flies were helping the little gal out. Their buzzing did alert me to her presence after all. I thought the toad would eat the little larvae but it didn't seem to.