TAMPA, Fla. — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants to remind pet owners to keep a lookout for the toxic bufo toad, which can kill your pet in as little as 15 minutes.
Also known as cane toads, the invasive species secrete a milky-white toxin, known as bufotoxin, from glands on the back of their heads. FWC says the toads are "very poisonous."
This interactive map from The University of Georgia - Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health shows where the toads are being reported.
FWC encourages homeowners to kill the toads if found on their property. According to FWC, the toads are native to the Amazon basin in South America and north to the lower Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas.
FWC says they were introduced into Florida in the 1930s and 40s to control pests in sugar cane.
"Before humanely killing a toad, always make sure that you have correctly identified it as a cane toad," FWC said on Facebook. "Native toad species are an important part of the ecosystem and are not harmful to people or pets so please be careful not to harm them."
How to spot them
- Reddish-brown to grayish-brown in color
- Light-yellow or beige belly
- Enlarged glands behind the eyes that angle down to the shoulders
- 6 to 9 inches in length
- Do not have ridges across the head, that's a southern toad
What to do if your pet bites or swallows a bufo toad
Symptoms may include:
- Frantic or disoriented behavior
- Brick red gums
- Foaming at the mouth
What to do:
- Wash toxins forward out of mouth using a hose for ten minutes being careful not to direct water down the throat
- Wipe gums/tongue with dish towel to remove toxins
- Get your pet to the vet!
What to do if you come into contact with one
- Wash your hands thoroughly
- Wear gloves when handling
How to keep them off your property
Remove places where cane toads or their prey can hide or seek shelter:
- Cut your grass regularly and keep it short
- Fill in any holes around structures
- Trim the underside of shrubs
- Keep branches or riprap off the ground
- Clear away brush piles
- Remove clutter
Remove food that can attract cane toads and their prey:
- Feed pets indoors when possible
- Bring outdoor pet food and water bowls indoors at night
- Clean up any food scraps from pet bowls or outside tables and grills
Get more information on the bufo toad from FWC by clicking here.