Cane Toad Biology

The Cane Toad has two poison glands located behind the eyes. These glands secrete a noxious substance known as Bufo-toxin. This is one of the reasons that it's highly recommended to wash your hands after handling a cane toad.




Symptoms of Cane Toad poisoning include: rapid heart beat, vomiting, excessive salivation, convulsions, paralysis and can even result in death.


Bufotenin, one of the chemicals excreted by the cane toad, is classified as a class-1 drug under Australian law, alongside heroin and cannabis. The effects of bufotenin are thought to be similar to those of mild poisoning;
the effects, which include hallucinations, last for less than an hour.

However, as the cane toad excretes bufotenin in small amounts, and other toxins in relatively large quantities, toad licking could result in serious illness or death


Australia has no native Toads, although there are frogs that at first glance may look a little toad like so it pays to know your frogs. Still, on close examination it is impossible to mistake an adult Cane Toad for anything else. They have rough skin and no webbing between the front toes.


The third eye or Nictitating membrane


They are also larger than any native frog achieving a maximum length of around 20cm. Although they are usually smaller than this.


CT showing an unusual bony spur


Cane Toads mate in temporary or permanent pools of water and will lay their eggs in a string towards or at the bottom of the pool.

Their mating call is quite distinct and has been compared to the sound of a small petrol engine but is a medium pitched warble heard in the evenings.

Their tadpoles are black in colour and have thickset bodies with short tails. Young Toads are greyish and have rusty colouration on the tips of their "warts". Their underside is a mottled grey.


By the early 1840s, the cane toad had been introduced into Martinique and Barbados, from French Guiana and Guyana. An introduction to Jamaica was made in 1844 in an attempt to reduce the rat population.

Despite its failure to control the rodents, the cane toad was introduced to Puerto Rico in the early 20th century in the hope that it would counter a beetle infestation ravaging the sugarcane plantations.

The Puerto Rican scheme was successful and halted the economic damage caused by the beetles, prompting scientists in the 1930s to promote it as an ideal solution to agricultural pests.

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