Facts about Cane toad
Poisonous toads got their bad reputation for being a pest in places they were artificially introduced to. Native to American continents, it is now present in dozens of countries where eradicates local animals which are not adapted to their toxins.
In Australia it spreads consistently across the continent, from the northeastern to the central part. To date, no remedy has been proposed for the cane toads infestation problem.
1Its Latin name is Rhinella marina, and it belongs to the family Bufonidae.
It has many common names like "marine toad," "giant toad."
2They are native to the Americas, from Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas through Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Amazonia up to southern parts of Peru.
They are also present on some islands near Venezuela like Margarita or Trinidad and Tobago.
3They were carelessly introduced into Queensland, Australia, in 1935.
It was hoped that they would eliminate the population of the destructive grey-backed cane beetle. They failed to defeat the insect but reproduced effortlessly in large numbers. Lack of natural predators contributes to the spread of the cane toad throughout the Australian continent.
4They are very large amphibians.
Adult toads are 10-15 cm (4-6 in) long. Females are considerably larger than males. They weigh about 1,4 kg (3 lb).
5The largest specimen of the cane toad was 39 cm (15,4 in) long.
Its enormous size was accompanied by a huge weight of 2,65 kg (5,84 lb).
6The skin of the cane toad skin is dry and covered with warts, with distinct ridges running above the eyes and extending across the snout.
Cane toads may be colored grey, yellowish, reddish-brown, or olive-brown, with diverse blots and patterns. The underside is cream-colored and may have spots in shades of black or brown.
7Juvenile cane toads have dark, smooth skin.
They lack the large parotoid glands of adults, so they are usually less venomous.
8Their primary sense is vision.
When hunting, they rely on motion detection but support themselves with their sense of smell.
9Cane toads are omnivorous.
They prefer meat to plants but tend to eat some greens from time to time. Toads feed mainly on invertebrates, little rodents, other amphibians and reptiles. Sometimes they are lucky to catch a bird and even bat. In urban areas, they may eat household waste or pet food, which is often left in bowls outside.
10Their poisonous skin protects an animal from predators.
When threatened, the cane toad produces a milky-white toxic liquid called bufotoxin.
11Tadpoles and eggs are also venomous.
12The bufotoxin produced by the toad's skin is very dangerous to animals and can kill them quickly.
Dogs tend to be poisoned because they often bite or lick cane toads. Exposure to the toxin can cause drooling, loss of coordination, head shaking and convulsions.
13Bufotoxin can also be fatal to humans.
Deaths have been reported after contact with the toxin, but more commonly, poisoned individuals experienced hallucinations, vomiting, pain, and visual disturbances occur in poisoned individuals.
14Despite their chemical warfare, cane toads have many predators.
They are being hunted by broad-snouted caimans, eels, killifish, rock flagtails, bullet ants, and some species of catfish and ibis.
15Their strategy while attacked is to stand still, release toxin and wait until predator gets poisoned and die.
Meat ants are invulnerable to toad's poison, so they consume immobilized animals alive.
16It has become a pest in many host countries and poses a severe threat to native animals.
Native predators are not adapted to the toad's poison, which kills them.
17It is considered an invasive species in over 20 countries.
Many examples of the cane toad moving into a new area lead to a decline in that territory's biodiversity.
18In the wild, giant toads can live between 10 and 15 years.
The record-holder was a specimen that lived in captivity for 35 years.