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Giant neotropical toad

Giant neotropical toad
Scientific classification
Other names
Giant toad
Marine toad
Giant marine toad
South American cane toad
Dominican toad
spring chicken
(in Belize)
Sapo gigante (Spanish)

The Giant neotropical toad (Bufo marinus) is native to the Caribbean (neotropics). Adults can range up to 1.8 kg (4 lb.) and are 15-23 cm (4-9 in.) in length. Characteristic of this species are enlarged paratoid glands behind the eyes and other glands across the back that secrete a milky-white fluid when the animal is harassed. The fluid is highly toxic and can blind a human for six hours or more and can kill children and small animals within a few hours. For this reason the toads have no natural predators wherever they are introduced. The animal is not easily provoked and have been kept as pets, although must be handled cautiously.

The toads will eat almost anything up to the size of a mouse or small bird and have even been known to attempt to eat ping pong balls. They are active primarily at night, ranging far away from water, which they visit only to mate and lay eggs.

This toad was introduced into Hawai'i in 1932 from Puerto Rico to control injurious insects in the sugar cane fields and took the name cane toad. However, in Hawai'i today, they are known as bufos or sometimes giant marine toad.

Introduction into Australia

Introduced to Australia from Hawai'i in 1935 in an attempt to control the cane grubs devastating sugar cane crops, the cane toad proved well-suited to its new environment but uninterested in the grubs, which live below the soil, or the beetles the grubs grow into, which fly well above it. Though originally only 40 toads were released in Queensland, a fertile female can produce up to 40,000 offsping in a year; the tadpoles of cane toads mature earlier than other tadpoles in Australia, limiting their competition options for food. The toad has no predators in Australia, except perhaps the occasional attack by the Torresian Crow that has learned how to kill them safely. In the past 70 years the toads have steadily spread from Queensland along the north coast and towards the center of the continent.