Toxic Toad Invasion

by Lisa Lanser-Rose

Sometimes when we come home after dark, this cane toad meets us on our doorstep.P1030043

Last night when he practically held the door for us, I suggested we follow the experts’ advice and kill the doorman.

My husband said, “As soon as we kill him, we let our guard down. Then the one we haven’t seen moves in.”

I said, “So this one’s a ‘reminder toad?’ Do we need a ‘reminder rattlesnake?'”

“What we need is a toad-proof dog.”

Cane toads are toxic. They’ve killed many a Florida dog. When threatened, the cane toad’s defense is to sit still, which is  some comfort to those of us with motion-activated dogs like Border Collies. One time, though, our toad hopped, and Mick’s reflex was to go for it. That’s all it takes. Educate yourself so you know what to do if it happens to your dog–rinse and run! Rinse the gums immediately and away from the throat for fifteen minutes, then run to the vet.

I’ve got the stomach to kill a toxic toad if I have to, but I’m a soft-hearted thinker. Do I really have to? It’s not the toad’s fault he’s a toxic invasive species any more than it’s my fault the human race is a toxic invasive species. I’m a trap-and-transport kind of woman and a toad-proofer. Whacking them or chopping them up is just mean and it splatters poison around. They say the trick is to stick them in the freezer for a few days. Then throw the body out–unless you want to keep it to make a hat or purse. But I digress.

I’m leery of the death penalty–sometimes the condemned is innocent. What if I got the wrong toad? There’s one in town who looks a lot like a cane toad. The smaller, look-alike Southern Toad innocently rids the world of pests. The good toad has horns, the bad toad doesn’t, but if you toad-proof your dog’s yard, you probably won’t need to go looking for horns.

Don't Hurt This Toad!
Horny Prince of Innocence

A friend recently wrote me: “I understand the problem and danger of invasive species. However, I cannot kill an animal who by no fault of his own is in a bad situation. I also know the cane toads are legion. One dead toad will never make a dent in the problem. I take them to a retention pond along the interstate and release them. Is this the right thing to do? Can’t say. But I know I can’t deal with the alternative. What I do know is if you have one, you have more. So watch your dogs.”

5 responses to “Toxic Toad Invasion

  1. They’re a threat to native species. I’d probably summon my courage, grab it using a plastic storage bag, and put it in the freezer. There are worse ways to die. But I’d also make sure I knew how to distinguish it from the southern toad.

    • I’m trying to find my courage, Lynn. Last night a friend told me she cornered a coral snake, grabbed a field guide, and identified it–“red touch yellow kills a fellow,” so her husband chopped it up. The pieces twitched for awhile, and then everybody went inside. Later, they checked on the fragments–and the head had escaped! The horror!

  2. I had no idea such a creature existed. I will be sure to share this information with all of my friends that live or travel through Florida.

  3. Midwestern Plant Girl

    Great 411!
    I’ve lived in Florida for a spell. .. Glad I didn’t encounter this fellow. I like the Midwest… Not so many creepy crawlers =)

Whatcha thinking? Gimme that! Grr! Grr!

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