Science and Tech


Venomous Toads Poisoning Florida Pets Is A Man-Made Problem

Every spring, Florida faces the threat of the bufo toad, or cane toad. It's an invasive species in the state, and its venom can kill pets.
Posted at 12:12 PM, Apr 09, 2015

WFTS anchor Laura Harris warned: "Seriously, an SOS, warning call right now for any pet owners out there: the bufo season, right now." 

That urgent warning is one Florida residents get around this time every year — about a toad.

The cane toad — Rhinella marina — is a species of toad originally found in South America up through Southern Texas. (Video via Al Jazeera)

It's become an invasive species in Florida, the Caribbean and Australia, thanks to human intervention. (Video via BBC)

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the toad was introduced to try to preserve sugar cane crops around the world, with producers hoping it would eat pests. (Video via This Week in Louisiana Agriculture)

While it failed spectacularly to control pests in almost every place it was introduced, in some environments, it succeeded in killing off indigenous species. (Video via Discovery)

In Florida, it's killed off pets. Dogs and cats can ingest the venom from eating or playing with the toads, and it can often be fatal. 

A veterinarian told WFTS, "It doesn't take very much of this toxin to cause the arrythmias and the seizure activity."

Authorities advise residents to keep pets on leashes and keep their food indoors. (Video via National Geographic)