marinus - Giant Toad, Cane Toad,
Critter or Exotic Pest?
Mr. and Mrs. Giant Toad
Giant Toad (a.k.a. Marine Toad or Cane
Toad) is the largest of the Florida
frogs and toads. When this non-native
species is threatened, it secretes a
highly toxic milky substance from its
large parotoid glands in the back of
its head. This secretion will burn
eyes, may inflame the skin, and can
kill cats and dogs if they ingest it.
released in sugar cane fields to help
control rats and mice, it now is
commonly found in South Florida yards.
It breeds year round in standing
water, streams, canals and ditches.
The call is a low-pitched trill which sounds like an idling diesel
scientifically as Bufo marinus, the
Cane Toad, Giant Toad, or Marine Toad
is native to an area extending from
Mexico and Central America to the
first Giant Toad population was
established in 1955 by an accidental
release at Miami International
Airport. Specimens imported by a pet
dealer escaped and spread through
canals to other areas. Pet dealers
deliberately released the toad
elsewhere in southeastern Florida in
the early 1960s.
marinus can grow to 9 inches in length
and more than 2 pounds in weight.
Giant Toads prefer developed areas,
where they use man-made canals and
ponds for spawning and gather under
electric lights to feed on insects. As
the Giant Toads are too large and slow
to flee predators, they defend
themselves by secreting a milky toxin
from glands located behind the head.
can live for a least 15 years in
captivity, and can breed for at least
five years in the wild.
Toads are heavily built, have short
legs and no webs between their toes.
Adults have a rough warty skin. Their color
is tan, dull green or black, with a
light underside. They have large
glands behind the head which exude a
poisonous milky substance when the
toads are attacked.
spawn consists of long double chains
of black eggs enclosed in a
transparent cover. They develop into
tadpoles which form large, slow moving
Toads are omnivorous. They eat
whatever is available. They will eat almost
anything they can get a hold of --
small amphibians, reptiles, birds, and
mammals. In fact, they eat any animal
they can swallow, and cat or dog food
-- unlike other amphibians, Giant
Toads eat things which do not move so
do not leave cat or dog food outside
for your pets -- the toads will sit in
the bowls and eat it.
Toads breed from June to January, but
toads have been found in breeding
condition throughout the year. Females
produce 8,000 to 50,000 eggs in a
clutch and can breed at least twice a
year. Giant Toads normally lay eggs in
slow moving freshwater streams, but they can
also breed in brackish
water. Tadpoles hatch in 48 to 72
hours. Depending on the water
temperature and food availability,
they can complete their development in
16 to 180 days.
Toads produce poison from glands
behind the head. The poison is highly
toxic to most animals and produces
pain and local inflammation if it
contacts the eyes. Most predators are
quickly killed after ingesting this substance.
and cats which bite Giant Toads die
within a few hours. Native species of
reptiles and mammals are also
vulnerable. The eggs and tadpoles of
Giant Toads are also poisonous.
control is probably the only practical
means of limiting the spread or
reducing the number of giant toads.
However a recent study found little or
no hope of such a control method.
Giant toads are often transported in
shipments of fruit and other
commodities. Until effective control
methods are available, quarantine
checks and the destruction of any
accidental releases of toads are
essential to reduce their rate of
Choice is Up to You
toads are beneficial for the gardener
and homeowner in general. They have a
huge appetite and eat millions of
insects per year. They are poisonous,
but only if carelessly handled -- they
do not attack humans or other large
animals. They do displace native toads
and reptiles and will eat other small mammals
and birds if they can catch them.
Toads can be removed and disposed of
humanely (as recommended by the IFAS
Animal Use Approval Committee) by
placing them in a plastic container
(or bag) in the freezer for three days
and then burying the carcasses. If you
do not wish to handle the toads,
contact a local nuisance animal
trapper. At FloridaGardener.com we
believe that there seems to be no real
need to make an active effort to
control Giant Toads as they are more
beneficial than harmful in the home
yard and garden. However, if the
population of toads grows out of
control or you believe they may be a
threat to your children, pets, or
wildlife in your yard, then you may
find it necessary to control the
population in your yard.
News Release 2.08.01 Toxic Toads As Pets? UF Expert Says No Way