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Cane Toads and Your Pets

Updated: Mar 28, 2022

It’s that time of year again in southwest Florida - warm, humid temperatures are returning along with frequent rain. This makes Florida a breeding ground for cane toads. You may have seen them already in your yard, bushes, or driveways, and heard their mating calls at night. Heidi & Hope Pet Services has seen more of them returning to the Naples area. Cane toads are not just any toad - they are an invasive species and toxic to our pets.

What are they?

Cane toads, also known as bufos, are reddish brown or grayish brown in color and range from 6 to 9 inches in length. They are much larger than a standard Florida toad. Cane toads were introduced into Florida to control sugar cane pests in the 1930s and 1940s. It is believed that current populations are the result of escapes and releases by importers from the 1950s and 1960s. They thrive in wet, humid, and dark Florida environments and are often seen in canals and pods. They breed year round and do not have many natural predators.

What makes them poisonous?

Cane toads have enlarged glands behind their eyes. These glands secrete a milky-white toxin called bufotoxin as a defense against predators including pets. Additionally, the toxin can irritate the skin or burn the eyes of people who handle them. Cane toad eggs also contain bufotoxin and can harm pets. If your pet consumes any of the toxin through their mouth or nose, it

could be fatal if quick action is not taken.

What do I do if my pet comes in contact with a cane toad?

If your pet comes in contact with a cane toad, symptoms will occur almost immediately. These symptoms include: head shaking, stumbling, tremors, increased or decreased heart rate, vomiting, and diarrhea.

  1. Seek emergency veterinary care immediately.

  2. In addition to veterinary care, it is important to remove the toxin as quickly as possible. Use a hose or a large amount of water directed towards the front of your pets mouth, being careful not to direct water down the throat. You can also wipe their gums and tongue with a towel.

How do I get rid of cane toads around my home?

  • Frequently cut grass, shrubs, and fill any holes around your property.

  • Clear away any fallen brush piles or standing water if possible.

  • Cane toads mostly come out at night, so any bright flashlight will help deter them and insure your pet does not come in contact with one.

  • You can also capture cane toads on your property for removal, but wear eye and skin protection, and latex gloves. Captured cane toads may not be relocated and released.

  • Visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Website for a list of Wildlife Trappers in your area who will remove any cane toads from your property.

Keep an Eye Out!

We never want to think about dangerous situations when in comes to our pets. But knowing how to identify a cane a toad, what to do if your pet comes in contact with one, and how to prevent them from lurking around your home will ensure the safety of your pet. Unfortunately, these toxic toads aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Always keep an extra eye out, especially when walking your pet at night. Heidi & Hope Pet Services will be taking extra precautions during our dog walks in Naples. For more information and additional preventative tips, visit the FWC website:


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