Cane toad

When a big one meets a smaller one, it’s lunch!

Charles J. Sharp

Cane toad is a highly adaptable and notorious amphibian species native to South and Central America. However, its introduction to various countries for pest control purposes has led to unforeseen ecological consequences, earning it a notorious reputation in some regions.

Initially introduced to combat agricultural pests, the cane toad quickly revealed its opportunistic nature as a predator. This adaptable amphibian is known to consume a wide variety of prey, including household rubbish, small rodents, insects, and even birds. Its indiscriminate appetite and ability to devour almost anything it encounters have contributed to its invasive success in many parts of the world.

One of the most infamous introductions of the cane toad occurred in Australia. In an attempt to control the population of the destructive cane beetle, the toads were introduced to Queensland in 1935. However, this endeavor backfired spectacularly, as the toads failed to control the beetles effectively and instead became a severe pest themselves. Their population in Australia has exploded to epidemic proportions, with estimates suggesting that over 200 million cane toads now inhabit the continent.

The presence of cane toads has wreaked havoc on Australia’s native ecosystems. They outcompete and threaten local wildlife, as their toxic skin secretions deter potential predators. Many native species, including small mammals and reptiles, have suffered declines in their populations due to the introduction of this invasive species.

As the cane toad population has surged, they have resorted to cannibalism as a survival strategy when food sources become scarce. This phenomenon underscores the adaptability and resilience of these toads, which, despite their own toxic skin secretions, will consume fellow cane toads when necessary.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Antigua & Barbuda
2008
Introduced
Aruba
2008
Introduced
Australia
2008
Introduced
Barbados
2008
Introduced
Belize
2008
Bolivia
2008
Brazil
2008
Colombia
2008
Costa Rica
2008
Dominican Republic
2008
Introduced
Ecuador
2008
El Salvador
2008
French Guiana
2008
Grenada
2008
Introduced
Guadeloupe
2008
Introduced
Guam
2008
Introduced
Guatemala
2008
Guyana
2008
Haiti
2008
Introduced
Honduras
2008
Jamaica
2008
Introduced
Japan
2008
Introduced
Martinique
2008
Introduced
Mexico
2008
Montserrat
2008
Introduced
Nicaragua
2008
Nort. Mariana Is.
2008
Introduced
Panama
2008
Papua New Guinea
2008
Introduced
Peru
2008
Philippines
2008
Introduced
Puerto Rico
2008
Introduced
Saint Lucia
2008
Introduced
Saint Vincent
2008
Introduced
Solomon Islands
2008
Introduced
St. Kitts & Nevis
2008
Introduced
Suriname
2008
Taiwan
2008
Introduced
Trinidad & Tobago
2008
US Virgin Islands
2008
Introduced
United States
2008
Introduced: Hawaiian Is., Florida
United States
2008
Texas
Venezuela
2008

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No