In keeping with this week's V-Day theme, I figured this would be a good time to answer the age-old question herpers always get: do toads show affection? The answer is that it depends.
Yael certainly does. Then again, Yael is less of a toad and more of a marshmallow covered in warts. She has her things she does when she wants interaction or to show affection. I already went over how she uses her paws to communicate with humans, but the paws aren’t her only way of showing affection.
If a domesticated amphibian has gotten used to its human, it will actually eat from your hand. Yael not only eats from my hand, she gives me little toady kisses. At first I thought that she was just trying to get the bugs on my hand or thought she’d find bugs there. But when I’ve gone in her tank for other things such as changing her water or the toad litter, if she’s feeling particularly friendly or knows I’m distressed she will hop right up to me and place little pecks on my hand!
She also likes to headbutt me with her little snout like a cat. She’s VERY strong too, you’d be shocked that when she really wants to play she’ll headbutt way harder than a cat can. She especially loves getting me in that little crook between my thumb and index finger.
The ultimate show of affection though actually isn’t in the tactile stuff Yael does, but the fact that she hops up to me even when I don’t have food on me and watches me. The picture I have in this post and on my About page came from a day she was being particularly affectionate in our old place. We used to live in a studio so her tank sat on top of a wide bureau, while I had some old school Yaffa blocks that stood next to it where most of my other clothing was. I had just finished feeding her and getting clobbered with toady kisses, then had to go pick out an outfit to get ready for meeting a friend. She did this thing where she was tip-toeing on the edge of her water dish and sitting on top of it all to get closer to where I was standing opposite of the tank by the Yaffa blocks.
I just totally squee’d as she tip-toed right over to me and looked very happy and excited. I immediately grabbed my phone to snap some pictures in various angles, and that picture was just THE BEST one because it so looks like she’s looking up at me like a puppy.
Just like humans, toads and other animals all have different dispositions. Many herp resources say that toads can’t recognize or give affection but I don’t think that’s true. A toad definitely is not the same as a dog or cat in this regard but some do show affection based on both their natural disposition and experience with humans. A toad who’s only been around or handled by shitty humans will not like them. Put the toad in the hands of a patient and loving crazy toad lady however...
Take a look at some toad videos on Youtube, one of my favorite uploaders is Anemone Toad Life. He has a bonded pair of two beautiful bufo japonicus toads who do all these cute things together and definitely show affection. I pondered getting Yael a companion but I think she likes being an only toad. She gets all the bugs and all the attention, and likes interacting with other humans who come to our house.
Yael is extremely sweet and I’m very lucky to have her! Even our vet remarked how she’d never seen a domesticated toad take to humans as much as Yael has. Human-toad relations indeed surprise us all.