Not all amphibians are in jeopardy… – Frog Blog

Not all amphibians are in jeopardy… – Frog Blog

Meet the cane toad.

Not all amphibians are in jeopardy… – Frog Blog
(Frogwatch North)

Cane toads (Rhinella marina) are native to Central America. Most people associate these toads with Australia. While that’s where a majority of their population is found, it is not where they belong. How did these animals become such a huge problem in a country so far away from their home? It all started in 1935…

Cane toads were first brought to Australian soil in 1935. They were introduced as a form of pest control. These creatures are tough animals that can withstand a lot of harsh environments. They also have massive appetites, which (seemed) to make them the perfect candidate for keeping control of the beetles destroying Australia’s sugar cane crops. However, this plan did not go as expected. Instead of eating the beetles that were wreaking havoc on cane crops, the toads would feast on anything but the beetles.


In Australia, cane toads are able to rapidly reproduce and continue moving into more areas. This is possible due to the lack of natural predators able to hunt these toads, combined with there being no diseases to control their population. Unlike many invasive species, these animals cause more than just ecological probems. They pose dangers to the human population too.

These animals secrete a toxin through their skin when threatened, that can pose a threat humans, pets, and native fauna. This toxin mainly impacts the heart, and can lead to cardiac arrest/death. Luckily, no humans in Australia have died as a result of the toxins from this toad. There have, however, been many cases of dogs dying from cardiac arrest after trying to pick up/eat frogs. Cane toads have also killed many native Australian fauna that made attempts to prey on them. If toads are mishandled by humans, the toxins will cause pain, temporary blindness, and inflammation.

In more recent news, these toads have began casing trouble in Florida, similarly to how they have in Australia (but not as bad quite yet.)

Another reason why these toads are able to populate areas so quickly has to do with the fact that one female cane toad can lay anywhere from 35,000 to 50,000 eggs in one clutch. This is the reason they’ve become such a big issue in Florida recently, as the heavy rains only help the toads by giving them more places to lay their eggs safely.

While most amphibians are very useful creatures, acting as indicator species, pest control, and staples of other animal’s diets, those that end up being invasive have the opposite effect. If we want to keep native fauna safe from situations like this, it’s important that we educate ourselves on the dangers of invasive species, and are able to identify native species from invasive ones.

Jodi Rowley


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