How Do Toads Drink Water?

Amphibians flaunt a range of physical traits and features, many of which allow them to perform key bodily functions in unique ways – like drinking. Contrary to aquatic frogs that live most of their lives in water, toads live on land, and you will never see amphibians licking up water like cats or dogs to stay hydrated. It may therefore seem unclear as to how they drink.

Toads consume water through cutaneous absorption, as their skin is permeable. They can absorb water from various environments, such as ponds, rain, moist soil, or damp leaf litter. Toads do not require as much water as aquatic frogs, yet need moisture to survive. 

Like all living things, toads must consume water in order to survive. They need adequate moisture or fresh water to survive in varying climates and temperatures. Toads have warty and dry skin, which is typically rough and leather-like, yet they need water to remain hydrated. 

Toads may not live in water like aquatic frogs, but they still need damp or wet areas to remain healthy throughout the year. Toads generally consume water within their terrestrial environment. They burrow underground during the day to stay out of the sun and absorb the moisture in the soil. 

Therefore, while toads are similar to frogs in many ways, they have a few differences in behaviour and physical characteristics. Join us as we discuss how toads interact with moisture in their environment to drink and attain the water levels necessary for survival.

Toads Drink Water Through Their Skin

Toads consume water through cutaneous absorption, a process that is permitted by their permeable and sensitive skin. Toads generally absorb humidity around them in the atmosphere, soil, and leaf litter.

Depending on the toad species and overall habitat, water can be consumed in the following ways: 

Water SourceSource ExamplesCutaneous Absorption
Direct SourceRain, pond, puddle, dew dropletsAbsorbs fresh water through the skin
or drinking patch
Indirect SourceAtmospheric humidity, soil, leaf litterAbsorbs excess moisture from the
surrounding environment

Water is absorbed through the skin by this process, where it moves through the body and supports hydration. Toads also have an area on their belly that is far more susceptible to moisture absorption, commonly known as a drinking patch. Toads often use this area when they need to drink more water, and they use it by pressing their bellies into the available water or moisture sources.

Indirect Water Sources

Toads often drink and remain hydrated thanks to indirect sources of water including the soil, leaf litter, and atmosphere.

Toads often drink through indirect sources since they are most active at night when the temperatures are lower and the atmosphere’s humidity levels are higher. It is also fairly common for toads to cover their bodies in moist soil or damp piles of natural debris when they are thirsty, especially during the day when temperatures are higher.

In humid locations there generally is plenty of moisture in the air. Tropical regions experience high humidity levels all year round which provide excellent hydration for toads. These methods may be slower and less efficient than a flowing stream of fresh and clean water. But, it is still a relatively effective tactic for toads in need of water while on land. 

Direct Water Sources

Absorbing water from primary water bodies is the most common and effective form of drinking for toads. Toads generally avoid permanent bodies of water as adults, but you may find a toad sitting happily in a temporary, shallow puddle from time to time. Most of these cases will involve drinking through cutaneous absorption. 

Toads may spend time in any shallow water body such as puddles and vernal pools. However, toads can also drink water by sitting in the rain and slowly absorbing atmospheric humidity and water droplets. 

Temperature changes may also bring condensation, which toads can use to their advantage. Toads may find a spot of dew-covered grass or plant life, depending on the area’s weather conditions and the time of day. They can absorb these tiny dew droplets through their sensitive skin and bellies to raise their hydration levels. 

Toads Need Water to Survive

Although toads do not need water as much as aquatic frogs, they still need water or moisture to survive. Toads do not need a water source to live in, but, they need access to a moist or wet environment to soak in on a daily basis to remain healthy. 

Toads can make do with a wide variety of moist, wet, or damp environments, ranging from puddles to birdbaths to mud and vernal pools (CTNF). Toads will be happy as long as they can stay hydrated and a tasty meal every day.

Below are some of the most important reasons why toads need water frequently: 

  • Bodily Functions: Toads need to drink water often to keep up their hydration levels, which support all aspects of health and bodily functions. Appropriate water levels help ongoing internal processes, help keep cells healthy, and help maintain their sensitive and permeable skin over time. 
  • Thermoregulation: While drinking water does not necessarily affect their temperature, the act of soaking in water bodies or burying themselves in moist terrain has a massive impact on their body temperatures. Toads are cold-blooded, and they need access to cool water and damp terrain to lower their temperatures when they get too warm. 
  • Breeding: Although toads typically spend more time on land, water bodies are extremely important for breeding. Most toad species use external fertilization methods and reproduce in aquatic spaces, choosing to lay their eggs in slow-moving water bodies such as ponds and streams. 

It is quite common for toads to find the nearest pond or bury themselves under the soil during the day to remain hydrated while keeping cool. While these areas are the most effective and favorable for toads, they can also wait out the heat in shaded areas. 

More About Toads And Water

While toads are not as attached to water bodies as frogs on a broad scale, toads still need environments with stable and sufficient water sources or moisture levels. Toads living near water bodies often spend time soaking in the water through their skin, while toads living inland often absorb moisture from damp soil or natural debris. 

Learn more about toads and how they drink on our blog:

Daniella Master Herpetologist

Daniella is a Master Herpetologist and the founder of, a website dedicated to educating the general population on frogs by meeting them where they are in their online Google Search. Daniella is passionate about frogs and put her digital marketing skills and teaching experience to good use by creating these helpful resources to encourage better education, understanding, and care for frogs.