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Giant Toad (Bufo marinus)

Description

Giant toad on the ground

The giant toad (also known as the cane or marine toad) is a large, nonnative amphibian that has been introduced to Florida. Giant toads are reddish-brown to grayish-brown, with or without a pattern, and have 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. Giant toads generally range in size from 6 to 9 inches long.

Giant toads can be confused with the native Southern toad. Adult giant toads are much larger than adult Southern toads, which only grow to a maximum of approximately 3.6 inches. Giant toads also do not have ridges across the head, as seen in the Southern toad.

In Florida, giant 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. Giant toads breed year-round in standing water, streams, canals and ditches.

Map of giant toad's native range

Native Range

The Amazon basin in South America north to the lower Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas.

Map of credible giant toad sightings

Florida distribution

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.

Diet

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.

Graph of level of concern

Concerns

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.