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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Florida's Giant Toad - beneficial garden critter or exotic pest...

Florida's Giant Toad - beneficial garden critter or exotic pest...

First published at Qassia:

The Giant Toad(aka marine toad or Cane Toad) is reportedly the largest of the Florida frogs and toads. When this non-native species feels threatened, it secretes a highly toxic substance from its large paratoid 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.

It was originally released in canefields to help control rats and mice and is now commonly found in Florida yards. It breeds all year round in standing water, streams, canals and ditches.

It is known scientifically as Bufo Marinus, the Cane Toad, Giant Toad or Marine Toad and is native to an area extending from Mexico and central America to the Amazon basin.

Florida's first Giant Toad population was accidently established by a release at Miami International Airport. Others spread by a pet dealer escaped through canals to other areas.

This Giant Toad is related to the Australian Cane Toad which was also spread after being released in cane fields in Queensland in the 1930's. They are now in epidemic proportions in that state and are spreading northwards and westwards endangering small native animal life.

They too are regarded a pest on a par with wild rabbits which have created an environmental wasteland in some areas of Australia.

Contributor's Note
Will become as widespread as their Australian cousins in a few decades.

The Australian Story

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