Identifying Cane Toads

Native to Central and South America, cane toads were introduced to Florida to control insect pests on sugar cane crops. Since then, the population has developed across the southern portion of the state. Toads are ground amphibians with dry, warty skin that is typically olive, gray, and brown. Unfortunately, the poisonous, invasive species is easily confused with native southern and oak toads. To tell them apart, look for the following distinguishing factors:

  • Size: Native toads are rarely larger than three inches, while adult cane toads are four to six inches long.
  • Paratoids: Cane toad poison glands are located on their shoulders and are large and triangular in shape. Native species have tiny, oval shaped glands.
  • Ridges: The southern and oak toads of Florida have ridges on their heads. Cane toads have bony ridges over their eyes.

Are Cane Toads Dangerous?

With natural toxins that result in convulsions, paralysis, or even death, it’s safe to say that cane toads are dangerous. However, many people are confused about whether the pests produce venom or poison. While some call the species venomous, this is not an accurate description of a cane toad. Venom is a toxin created by an animal in order to be injected into predators or prey. Poison, on the other hand, is transferred more passively through touch, ingestion, or inhalation.

Cane toads don’t bite victims, nor do they spit or squirt venom as is sometimes incorrectly reported. Instead, the pests excrete a milky substance on their skin that burns eyes, inflames skin, and is rapidly absorbed through the mucus membranes if touched. Therefore, while not venomous or aggressive, these poisonous pests are far from harmless. Cane toad poison is dangerous to humans, but pets are the most often affected. A pet that ingests this potent toxin can die within fifteen minutes. Early symptoms include rapid heartbeat and excessive salivation.

Cane Toad Damage & Management

In addition to their poisoning ability, these large amphibians are best known for their voracious appetites. Cane toads prey on native lizards, frogs, snakes, small mammals, and anything that will fit in their mouths. Also, if available, they are will eat human or pet food. Due to the pests’ highly toxic nature, it is recommended to contact the pest professionals of Trutech to handle cane toad issues.