Cane toad

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Cane toads are extremely large toads living in South and Central America and Australia. These toads can be recognized by their large parotoid glands behind their eyes. The glands secrete poison when the toads are in danger. I will talk more about this poison later on. The individual above is a male, while the one below is a female. Although both  are extremely bumpy, the female is slightly less bumpy. This is characteristic of all female cane toads. As with several toads, cane toads have golden irises (the place around the pupils in the eye). These amphibians, like many, are mainly nocturnal. Most individuals are some shade of brown, but this can be light brown, dark brown, yellowish brown, or reddish-brown.

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Range

Cane toads originally lived in Central America and northern South America. This is the area colored in blue. The red area is the places that these toads have been introduced. These toads were introduced into Australia on purpose. They were meant to control the cane beetle population that had been destroying the sugar can crops. The cane toads failed at their intended purpose but succeeded in reproducing rapidly and creating a stable population in Australia. In 1935, 3,000 cane toads were released in a single plantation in Australia, and now their numbers are in the millions. You can see how far their range has spread in the past 80 years.

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Poison

Normally for deadly animals like this, this section is entitled “Venom.” Cane toads are poisonous not venomous because their deadly liquid is not injected into the bloodstream like with snake or spider bites. This poison is useful for evading predators. When an enemy tastes the milky-white poison secreted by the toads parotoid glands, it will most likely spit the toad out, knowing it is deadly. The poison then attacks the predator’s heart. Although this poison is rarely deadly, some people have died from eating these toads or their eggs.

Diet

As with almost all amphibians, cane toads are carnivores. Well actually they are omnivores, but they do eat other animals like other amphibians. Cane toads are not picky eaters. They will consume almost anything that is available. Some of their prey include small snakes, frogs, lizards, mice, snails, earthworms, and insects. Some have even been observed eating dog or cat food left out for house pets! They are not particularly picky about the plant matter they eat either. Tadpoles consume algae and aquatic plants.

Size

Cane toads are a little lager than the average size for toads. The average adult reaches four to six inches (10-15 cm) in length. Some of them are able to reach up to 9.5 inches (24 cm). Although this is not huge, they are bulky and therefore weigh more than their length might suggest. Adults can be up to 4.4 pounds (2 kg).

Status and threats

As with most species that have invaded other places, the cane toad is “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. Although in the Americas habitat destruction has become a minor threat to the cane toad’s survival, individuals in Australia live the easy life. There are no known natural predators for cane toads in Australia. This is probably why they were able to spread so fast after their introduction. If they survive, most predators probably refuse the meal a second time after getting a taste of the toad’s poison the first time.

Reproduction and young

Depending on their location, mating occurs at different times of the year. Although pairs most likely breed during the spring, they are able to mate year round. Each male may mate with several females, and vice versa. Females are ready to lay eggs by their second year. Each female lays from 8,000 to 50,000 eggs each year! They are laid in long, jelly-like strings attached to rocks, debris, or vegetation underwater. It takes two to seven days for the eggs to hatch, and the tadpoles have no parental care. Depending on the water temperature and food availability, cane toad tadpoles take from 35 to 50 days to completely metamorphose into a toadlet. These amazing toads can live up to 10 years in the wild.

Don’t forget to scroll down and comment your guess about what the next animal is!

mystery animal

Sources:

Photo credits:

  • Cane toad – Benjamint444
  • Female cane toad – Benjamint444
  • Cane toad range map – J. Patrick Fischer
  • Mystery animal – D. Gordon E. Robertson
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