As weather becomes warmer and wetter, people in south Florida are more likely to encounter amphibians, including nonnative cane toads. These toads, also known as bufo toads or marine toads, are poisonous to most animals that try to bite or consume them. This can prove deadly for your dog or cat.
A cane toad’s toxin can kill your pet in as little as 15 minutes without proper treatment. If your pet bites or licks a cane toad, it will likely start acting strangely with frantic or disoriented behavior. It may also have brick-red gums, seizures and foam at the mouth.
If you see these symptoms and believe your pet licked or bit a toad, immediately wash toxins forward out of the mouth using a hose for 10 minutes, being careful not to direct water down the throat. Wipe the gums and tongue with a dish towel to help remove the toad’s milky, white toxins that will stick to your pet’s mouth. Once you have done this, get your pet to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
The best way to protect your pet is to reduce the opportunity for them to come into contact with a cane toad. Keep an eye on pets when they are outside, especially at night when cane toads are most active. You can help make your property less attractive to cane toads by following these tips:
- Cut your grass regularly and keep it short.
- Fill in any holes around structures.
- Trim the underside of shrubs and keep branches off the ground.
- Clear away brush piles and remove clutter.
- Feed pets indoors when possible and bring outdoor pet food and water bowls indoors at night.
- Clean up any food scraps from pet bowls or outside tables and grills.
The FWC encourages landowners to kill cane toads on their own property whenever possible. Cane toads are not protected in Florida except by anti-cruelty law and may be removed from private property year-round with landowner permission. Invasive cane toads can closely resemble native southern toads and other species of native amphibians, so be sure to properly identify cane toads before killing them.
Wear latex, rubber or nitrile gloves to safely handle cane toads. Captured cane toads may not be relocated and released. Homeowners that need assistance removing cane toads from their property can hire a wildlife trapper.
To learn more about nonnative species in Florida, visit MyFWC.com/Nonnatives. For more about cane toads, click on “amphibians,” then “Frogs and Toads” and scroll down to “Cane Toad.” For information on how to humanely capture and kill cane toads, click on the “Can I remove cane toads from my property?” tab under the “Frequently Asked Questions” section.