Invasive Marine Toads

Our Florida weather is perfect for frogs and toads with its warm, humid climate, various habitats, and wetland environments.

You might ask yourself what is the difference between a Frog or a Toad? Well, a toad except for an eastern narrow mouth toad, have warty dry skin while frogs on the other hand, have smooth and moist skin. Toads have a pair of parotid glands that bulge out from behind their eyes. These are the glands that produce a bufotoxin that protects them from being eaten by most animals.

Even though all toads have these glands, most are too small to cause any real effect on people and pets. There is, however, the exception of the non-native marine toad also known as the bufo toad or cane toad. This non-native toad measures to be approximately 6 inches. The toxins produced by this toad can release a toxin that can affect both people and pets.

The evolution of frogs and toads have allowed them to be able to survive on land. There are two (2) life stages for frogs and toads known as the tadpole stage and adult stage. All frogs and toads here in Florida lay eggs in water. The eggs then develop into tadpoles which tend to have more of a fish like appearance and after a period of time, they grow and develop to be adults. Tadpoles eat bacteria and algae whereas the adults eat insects.

They have a very good sense of smell and this is due to a small organ located in the nasal passages called the Jacobson’s organ. They are also sensitive to movement, have a wide range of vision and have a developed outer ear.

As frogs and toads move to lakes, streams, ponds, and ditches for breeding, homeowners who live near water may hear a variety of calls being made by the male frogs who are calling to breed with the females. This sound can be heard throughout the year. Even though they tend to live in various habitats, the adults spend much of their time on dry land and only migrate to various wetlands during the breeding season. 

They are attracted to any body of water such as pools and bird baths. During the breeding season, homeowners encounter problems with frogs and toads invading their pools, pool filter, bird baths, porches, patios, backyards, and other living areas. There are a few options available to keep frogs and toads at bay. You can try to make the water inaccessible through the use of certain materials like netting and screening, cover open water in pools and ponds after dark to prevent them from laying eggs, reduce lighting around your home after dark, keep your grass short, remove clutter and brush piles, pick up any food scraps laying around, fill in any holes that you may find that they can hide in and turning on some white noise (ex: ceiling fan or relaxing music) to help tune out the noise.

The non-native marine toad can become a problem as they have been known to eat pet food left in the bowl which in turn causes your pet to become deathly ill. If your pet bites or licks a marine toad, it may become disoriented and display unusual behavior. Your pet may foam at the mouth, seizure and have dark red gums. If you suspect that your pet may have licked or bitten a marine toad and is displaying the above-mentioned symptoms, promptly wash the toxins forward out of the mouth for approximately ten (10) to fifteen (15) minutes using a water hose avoid directing the water down your pet’s throat. Use a washcloth to help remove the white milky toxins left by the marine toad and contact your veterinarian for further instructions and treatment.

The non-native marine toads are not a protected species in Florida and can be removed and disposed of in a humane manner. Wear rubber, latex or nitrile gloves when handling marine toads by placing them in a plastic bag or container in the freezer for two (2) to three (3) days or contact a nuisance animal trapper for assistance.