Florida Invader: Cane Toad1

Steve A. Johnson and Monica E. McGarrity 2
This fact sheet is best viewed as a pdf, available here: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/UW/UW34500.pdf

Figure 1. Cane toad (Rhinella marina), also known as the
Figure 1.  Cane toad (Rhinella marina), also known as the "bufo" toad or marine toad.
Credit: Steve A. Johnson, UF/IFAS

Cane toads are native to South and Central America and have become established in central and southern Florida. The poison glands on the shoulders of cane toads produce toxins that can kill pets or make them very ill. Native southern tToads and oak toads also have these glands, but their toxins are much less potent and are harmless to pets. Toads live on the ground and have stout bodies and dry, warty skin. Adult toads can be identified using the tips in the bulleted lists below—remember that body color can vary a lot. Native southern toads and invasive cane toads both lay long strings of eggs, and it is nearly impossible to tell their eggs and young apart. Cane toads should be humanely euthanized by applying 20% benzocaine gel to the toad's belly and then freezing the toad.

How do I know if I have found a dangerous Cane Toad or a harmless native toad?

First, be sure it is a toad, then read on below to identify the species.

Toads

  • Live on the ground, and do not climb walls

  • Have stout bodies

  • Have dry, warty skin

  • Have poison glands on their shoulders

Cane Toad—Invasive

  • Can be larger than three inches (young are smaller)

  • Poison glands are large and somewhat triangular, tapering back to a point

  • No knobs or ridges on top of the head

Figure 2. Invasive cane toads have very large poison glands on their shoulders—these glands are somewhat triangular, tapering back to a point.
Figure 2.  Invasive cane toads have very large poison glands on their shoulders—these glands are somewhat triangular, tapering back to a point.
Credit: Steve A. Johnson, UF/IFAS

Southern Toads—Native

  • Rarely larger than 3 inches

  • Poison glands are small and oval; no danger to pets

  • Two obvious ridges on head end in knobs

Figure 3. Native southern toads (Anaxyrus terrestris) have small, oval glands on their shoulders and a pair of raised ridges or crests on top of their heads.
Figure 3.  Native southern toads (Anaxyrus terrestris) have small, oval glands on their shoulders and a pair of raised ridges or crests on top of their heads.
Credit: UF/IFAS

Oak Toads—Native

  • Never larger than 1.75 inches

  • Poison glands are tiny and oval; no danger to pets

  • No knobs or ridges on top of the head

Figure 4. Native oak toads (Anaxyrus terrestris) are very small toads, and have tiny, oval glands on their shoulders.
Figure 4.  Native oak toads (Anaxyrus terrestris) are very small toads, and have tiny, oval glands on their shoulders.
Credit: UF/IFAS

Additional Information

For more information on cane toads, visit http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/frogs/canetoad.shtml.

Footnotes

1. This document is WEC300, one of a series of the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 2010. Revised February 2014. Reviewed June 2017. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. Steve A. Johnson, associate professor and Extension specialist; and Monica E. McGarrity, Extension program assistant; Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

For more information on Cane Toads, visit http://ufwildlife.ifas.ufl.edu/canetoad.shtml.