MIAMI (CBSMiami) — South Florida’s recent heavy rain sets the perfect mood for giant toxic toads to breed. They’re called Cane toads, or Bufo toads, and the invasive species can be deadly for cats and dogs.
Cane toads are the largest toad breed in Florida. They come out at night during the summer and eat insects, other toads and frogs, protected bird species and even small native animals, according to experts.READ MORE: Florida Records Highest One-Day Total Of COVID Cases With 21,000
And they can kill your beloved pets so don’t let your dogs or cats near them.
FWC officials say if your pet licks or swallows a cane toad, wash their mouth out for 10 minutes, wipe the gums and tongue, and get your pet to a vet immediately. The toxins can kill in as little as 15 minutes.
Signs of direct contact with pets including increased salivation and drooling, frothing at the mouth, red, slimy gums, crying, vomiting, and seizures.
Cane toad venom, also called bufotoxin, can cause skin and eye irritation in people who handle them.
So, what do they look like?
They are often confused with the native southern toad because they have a similar shape and size, but native southern toads have bilateral crests on top of their heads while cane toads do not.READ MORE: Royal Caribbean Expands COVID Testing Requirements
Cane toads are reddish-brown to grayish brown in color, with a light yellow or beige belly. They also have enlarged glands behind the eyes, which angle downward onto the shoulders. The glands secrete a potent milky-white toxin, the bufotoxin, as a defense against predators.
They range in size from 6 to 9 inches long, which is much larger than native Florida toads.
Cane toads are native to South and Central America. They were first imported to Florida to try and control agricultural pests in sugar cane fields in the 1930s and 40s and there were deliberate releases by animal dealers in the 60s.
Cane toads are well established in the state now, from the Keys to north of Tampa and the population is still growing. They are commonly found in yards, around buildings or near canals and ponds. They do breed year-round in standing water, streams, canals and ditches.
If you find a cane toad in your yard, or anywhere else, you can kill it. As matter of fact, the FWC encourages people who see cane toads to kill them because they are a threat to native species and pets. They aren’t protected in Florida except by anti-cruelty law.
How do you humanely kill a cane toad?
The University of Florida recommends euthanizing them by rubbing or spraying 20% benzocaine toothache gel or sunburn spray (not 5% lidocaine) on the toad. When it becomes unconscious, put it in a sealed plastic bag and freeze it before throwing it out.MORE NEWS: Activists Hold 'Down With The Chains' Rally At Bayfront Park Saturday
CLICK HERE for a map that shows the latest reported sightings and captures of the toad.