The cane toad (also known as the giant or marine toad) is a large, nonnative amphibian that has been introduced to Florida. Cane toads are reddish-brown to grayish-brown, with or without a pattern, and a light yellow belly. They have enlarged parotid glands behind the ears, which angle downward onto the shoulders. The glands secrete a potent milky-white toxin as defense against predators. Cane toads generally range in size from 6 to 9 inches long.
Cane toads can be confused with the native Southern toad. Adult cane toads are much larger than adult Southern toads, which only grow to a maximum of approximately 3.6 inches. Cane toads also do not have ridges across the head, as seen in the Southern toad.
In Florida, cane toads are found in urban, suburban and agricultural areas. It is common to find them in yards and around buildings or near canals and ponds. Cane toads breed year-round in standing water, streams, canals and ditches.
The Amazon basin in South America north to the lower Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas.
Cane toads are currently found in central and south Florida, generally south of the 1-4 corridor.
History of introduction
Cane toads were first introduced to Florida to control agricultural pests in sugar cane in the 1930s and 40s. It is believed that current populations are the result of pet trade escapes and releases in the 1950s and 60s.
Cane toads are omnivores that will eat insects, vegetation, small birds, other toads or frogs, lizards, small mammals, and snakes. If available, cane toads have been known to be attracted to and eat human table scraps and pet food. It is recommended that pet food not be left outside to avoid attracting cane toads and other animals.
The skin-gland secretions of cane toads are highly toxic and can sicken or even kill animals that bite or feed on them, including native animals and domestic pets. The skin secretions may irritate the skin or burn the eyes of people who handle them. Tadpoles of native frog species can be killed by consuming cane toad eggs. Cane toads also potentially compete with native frogs and toads for food and breeding areas.