Marine toad.
Marine toad.

Marine Toad

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The marine toad, also known as the cane toad, is a large toad originally from Middle America which has spread to lots of places, and became an invasive species.

Marine toad.

Marine toad (Rhinella marina, previously Bufo marinus), Toronto Reptile Expo.

Like all toads, cane toads produce bufotoxin in their parotoid glands. Being rather large marine toads produce a lot of toxin. Most animals will die if they try to eat a marine toad, or succeed eating one.

In lots of places cane toads are considered to be an invasive species. One of the worst example is Australia. The Australian government has released something between forty to a hundred marine toads (depending on what source you believe) in the hope that they will multiply and act as a natural defense against the cane beetle that was destroying sugar cane plantations. The toads did multiply like rabbits — apparently earlier problems with rabbits weren’t warning enough for the Australian government not to introduce a new species at a whim. The toads shown very little interest in eating cane beetles or cane beetle larvae. Today there are over two hundred millions cane toads in Australia and they are still multiplying and expanding their territory.

The spread of cane toads has a devastating effect on the local fauna since local predators have no idea what a toad is and they will try to eat a cane toad the first time they see one — often with a deadly result.

Feral cane toads can even be a menace to family pets as they will steal dog food right from the dog’s plate, and if the dog tries to byte the toad he gets a mouthful of poison. The large number of cane toads hopping everywhere are a real nuisance.

Even though the name implies that the animal lives in marine environments it was based on an erroneous observation, but the name stuck. Marine toads do not live in salt water, in fact the adult toad is a terrestrial animal that only returns to fresh water to breed.

Marine toad.

Amphibian enthusiasts sometimes keep marine toads as pets. Marine toads are relatively undemanding, they will eat anything, including dog food, and survive under various conditions. Unlike most frogs, cane toads can in fact find food items that aren’t moving, mostly by smell, and eat dead things such as processed dog food — it is not necessarily good for them, so owners of pet marine toads should still provide healthy live insect prey. The main draw back of having a cane toad for a pet is that they are poisonous and must be handled with care. Captive marine toads do tolerate some amount of handling, but through hand washing is strongly advised because of the toxins produced by the animal.

Whatever you do, if you keep a marine toad as a pet never ever release it to the wild.

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Last updated: January 22, 2016

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