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Many toads, like the Cane Toad are poisonous to a dog. I have a dog. I want to build a habitat for a toad outdoors. How can I do this safely? I'm told toads can dig? How deep? if I put chicken wire down 2 feet and build a two foot wall, will that be sufficient to safely contain a toad? I basically want to make a hibernaculum and a toad enclosure that the toad can't escape, and the dog can't get into.

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    What kind / species of toad do you want to keep? Are you absolutely sure the enclosure will be safe for the toad in regards to temperature, moisture and other critters like ants or snakes?
    – Elmy
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 21:15
  • @Elmy strongly considering Colorado River Toad, which is legal in my state (Texas) Commented Dec 20, 2022 at 22:53

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TL;DR - I recommend looking into an indoor enclosure for your toad. You can only do so much to mitigate the risks associated with keeping it outdoors.

To answer your question:

Yes toads dig, and many burrow anywhere from a few inches to 3+ feet down. It very much depends on the toad, but you'd want more than chicken-wire (toads can fit through small gaps). I would go with mesh screen on all sides, including top and bottom. Since they both burrow and jump, you'd want to ensure there is no escape from any angle (what's to stop the toad from burrowing a little extra far and past where you've buried your screen?). A top and bottom would also keep pets and predators out of the enclosure.

Why I recommend keeping your toad inside:

Escape risks- Toads and other such pets are typically kept in indoor enclosures (tanks, terrariums, etc.). Outdoor toad habitats are usually only built to encourage wild toads to stay in your yard (leaving them free to come and go), which I would not recommend if you have a dog. Toads are small, and no matter how well you build a mesh/screen enclosure, there's always risk of escape (wild animal breaks in, strong winds, shifting dirt, etc.). You definitely do not want a captive bred animal escaping into the wild, especially if it is not native to your location.

Habitat control- I couldn't find any information on a California River Toad and assume you mean either a Colorado River Toad or a Western Toad. Everything I read about their care only discuss a tank enclosure. The links I provided have really detailed care sheets for each type of toad, and both emphasize the importance of aspects like light, humidity, and temperature (although the Western Toad appears to be less finicky). You can't control the weather, but you can control an indoor environment.

Health risks- It's very important that you keep a well-maintained environment for amphibians to keep them safe and healthy. Plus, if it's a poisonous toad, you can more easily keep your pets and local wildlife safe from it by keeping it indoors.

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