Invasive species bufo toads are toxic and can kill pets

The fat, warty cane or bufo toads have been making uninvited appearances all over South Florida. The heavy rains have brought them out of their burrows and given them ample amounts of water to breed. These yellowish, brown toads can be poisonous to pets.

“They’re tan to reddish-brown, dark brown or gray, and their backs are marked with dark spots, according to the University of Florida. They have warty skin.

Cane toads have large, triangular parotoid glands on their shoulders that secrete a milky toxin. (Native toads’ parotoid glands are oval.) Unlike native southern toads, cane toads do not have ridges or “crests” on top of the head.”

As the rainy season continues, the tadpoles will have a better chance of survival – thus increasing the population of the largest toad found in Florida. According to the Miami Herald, people are seeing more of the toads now. When provoked the amphibian produces a milky white toxin on its back which is especially dangerous to house pets.

The toxin from the cane toad can kill a dog or cat in as little as 15 minutes states the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. The toads are 4-6 inches in length and can grow to more than 9 inches; it’s favorite place is the ground- they do not like to climb.

If a pet bites, licks or even sniffs a cane toad, it can quickly become sick and if not treated, may die. Symptoms of poisoning in pets include drooling, red gums, head shaking, crying, loss of balance and possibly convulsions. If your pet comes in contact with the bufo, use a damp cloth and wipe the inside of the dog’s mouth to make sure the toxins were not swallowed. Call your veterinarian immediately. Do not flush the dog’s mouth as that might cause the toxins to be swallowed.

There is a humane way to get rid of cane toads. Rubbing or spraning 20% benzocaine or sunburn spray (not 5% lidocaine) on the toad. In a few minutes, it will become unconscious. Place the toad in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer for 24-48 hours to ensure it has been humanely euthanized.

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