- Common Name:
- Cane Toad
- Scientific Name:
- Rhinella marina
- Group Name:
- Knot, nest
- Average Life Span In The Wild:
- 5 to 10 years
- 4 to 6 inches
- 2.9 pounds
- IUCN Red List Status:
- Least concern
- Current Population Trend:
The cane toad is a large, warty, poisonous amphibian native to South and Central America and considered to be one of the worst invasive species in the world. They were introduced in many countries with the hope that they would help control agricultural pests. The toads failed at controlling insects, but they turned out to be remarkably successful at reproducing and spreading themselves.
Their diet consists largely of insects, but they'll eat almost anything, including small birds, other reptiles and amphibians, and small mammals.
In 1935, at the request of sugarcane plantation owners, the government released about 2,400 cane toads into north Queensland to help control cane beetles, which eat the roots of sugarcane. Because they have no natural predators in Australia, will eat almost anything, and reproduce easily, they spread quickly and widely. Cane toads in Australia now number into the millions, and their still-expanding range covers thousands of square miles in northeastern Australia.
In addition to Australia, cane toads have spread in Florida, Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, the Caribbean islands, the western Pacific islands, Papua New Guinea, and elsewhere.
The poisonous toads kill both pets and native species when animals bite, lick, or eat them, and they outcompete native species for resources like food and breeding habitat.
Cane toads secrete a milky poison from the parotoid glands behind the shoulders. The poison, called bufotoxin, contains several different chemicals, such as bufagin, which affects the heart, and bufotenine, a hallucinogen.
They breed almost any time of year and lay eggs—between 8,000 and 30,000 at a time—in long strings in fresh water. Both eggs and tadpoles are also poisonous. They're highly adaptable and can be found in urban and agricultural areas, as well as dunes, coastal grasslands, and the edges of rainforests and mangrove swamps.