Homeowners in South Florida are being warned that invasive, poisonous toads are making an appearance following recent heavy rains.
The scary-looking toads can be dangerous — and even deadly — to pets.
The yellowish-brown cane toads, also known as bufo toads, are making an appearance in the suburbs of South Florida. The recent heavy rains in the area brought the cane toads out of their burrows, and gave them plenty of water to breed in.
“As long as there is water for them to breed in, the cane toads will thrive,” said William Kern, an associate professor at the University of Florida who specializes in urban pest management.
“They will be out above the surface, foraging and breeding,” Kern continued. “People are probably seeing more of them now.”
And unfortunately, forecasters are predicting a wetter-than-normal summer, which could give tadpoles a better chance at survival. It could lead to a big population boom, which is bad news for pet owners.
Cane toads, which are the largest toad found in Florida, are generally harmless to humans. However, they can be dangerous for pets.
The toads have large, triangular glands behind their eyes that contain a milky-white toxin. It is very viscous, and can kill dogs.
If a dog bites or licks the slow-moving toad and gets some of the toxin in its mouth, it could suffer convulsions, loss of coordination, or cardiac arrest.
Dog owners are warned to look for the signs of poisoning: excessive drooling, vomiting, red gums, disorientation, circling, lack of coordination, falling, and seizures.
If you think your dog has been poisoned by a cane toad, wash out your dog’s mouth for several minutes. Run water through one side of the mouth and out the other, making sure you do not flush the water down the throat. This could further spread the poison.
More importantly, you should get your dog to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Homeowners should also take extra precautions to help quell the cane toads in their backyards.
Things like cat food left out or pet poop can attract insects, which can in turn attract the toads. The same goes for outdoor lights.
Toads also love to breed in ornamental pools of water, or untreated water in pools. Use a cover over your pool when it’s not in use, and consider installing cane toad proof fences around water.
If you’re seeing a lot of cane toads in your yard, you might want to call up a cane toad-specific pest-removal company to help.