Florida Invader: Poisonous Cane Toad (Bufo Toad)

Bailey’s 2 Biscuits…

    Being a southeastern doggie, there are lots of little creatures outdoors, ALL of the time. Many of them, I need to stay away from because they are dangerous to doggies like me. Especially little and not-so-little creatures, like froggies and toads — some of them are poisonous to us furry ones. I recently came just about face-to-face with a Bufo Toad — once one was right outside our front door, and another time in my backyard.

    Luckily, my mommy is teaching me to stay away from ALL froggies, since there is no way for me to tell which ones can hurt me. I hope this article teaches you and your human know what to look for, if you happen to spot one of these dangerous creatures. Click here for pictures of frogs and toads.

Florida Invader: Poisonous Cane Toad (Bufo Toad)
Figure 1. Cane Toad (Rhinella marina), AKA “Bufo” Toad or Marine Toad.
Photo Credits: Steve A. Johnson, University of Florida

Cane Toad (Rhinella marina), also known as the “Bufo” Toad or Marine Toad

Cane Toads are native to South and Central America and have become established in central and southern Florida. Toads live on the ground and have stout bodies and dry, warty skin. The poison glands on the shoulders of Cane Toads produce toxins that can kill pets or make them very ill. Native Southern Toads and Oak Toads also have these glands, but their toxins are much less potent and are harmless to pets. Adult toads can be identified using the tips in the bulleted lists below—remember that body color can vary a lot. Native Southern Toads and invasive Cane Toads both lay long strings of eggs, and it is nearly impossible to tell their eggs and young apart. Cane Toads should be humanely euthanized by applying 20% benzocaine gel to the toad’s belly and then freezing the toad.

How do I know if I have found a dangerous Cane Toad or a harmless native toad?

First, be sure it is a toad, then read on below to identify the species.


  • Live on the ground, and won’t be found climbing walls like treefrogs
  • Have stout bodies
  • Have dry, warty skin
  • Have poison glands on their shoulders

Florida Invader: Poisonous Cane Toad (Bufo Toad) Cane Toad—Invasive: Invasive Cane Toads have very large poison glands on their shoulders—these glands are somewhat triangular, tapering back to a point.

  • Grows larger than 3 inches (young smaller)
  • Poison glands are large and somewhat triangular, tapering back to a point
  • No knobs or ridges on top of the head

Florida Invader: Poisonous Cane Toad (Bufo Toad) Southern Toad—Native: Native Southern Toads (Anaxyrus terrestris) have small, oval glands on their shoulders and a pair of raised ridges or crests on top of their heads.

  • Rarely larger than 3”)
  • Poison glands small and oval
  • 2 obvious ridges on head end in knobs

Florida Invader: Poisonous Cane Toad (Bufo Toad) Oak Toad—Native: Native Oak Toads (Anaxyrus terrestris) are very small toads, and have tiny, oval glands on their shoulders.

  • Usually less than 1.5”
  • Poison glands tiny and oval
  • No knobs or ridges on top of the head
  • Light stripe down the back


Copyright © 2010 University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). Authored by Steve A. Johnson and Monica E. McGarrity. Photo credits: Steve A. Johnson, Associate Professor and Extension specialist. This document is WEC300, one of a series of the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted at BaileyBeGood.com with permission.