Cane Toad

Common Name:
Cane Toad
Scientific Name:
Rhinella marina
Type:
Amphibians
Diet:
Omnivore
Group Name:
Knot, nest
Average Life Span In The Wild:
5 to 10 years
Size:
4 to 6 inches
Weight:
2.9 pounds
IUCN Red List Status:
Least concern
Current Population Trend:
Increasing

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.

Invasive species

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.

Toxicity

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.

Natural history

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.

This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
Photograph by Brenton Mansfield, National Geographic Your Shot


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