Cane Toad Overload

Protect your pets against Cane Toads

Being aware of your surroundings will help save your pets

The toxin from the adult Cane toads can seriously harm and even kill pets and wildlife if it is ingested. The toxin glands are located on each side of the Cane toad’s head. They release the toxin as their defense. Once this toxin has been swallowed by dogs, cats, or even small mammals, it can cause disorientation, red gums, foaming of the mouth, seizures and even death within 15 minutes.

If your pet does come into contact with the poison from a Cane toad, we recommend wiping their mouth out with a clean, dry rag. Do not let them swallow any water and get them to the vet immediately.

By removing Cane toad attractants and hiding spots around your home, it could help protect your furry loved one when they are out enjoying the yard. Always remember to be aware of your surroundings while walking your dog.


- Walk your pet on a leash and keep an eye on where they are sniffing around.

- Bring a flashlight when walking in the late evening and early morning.

- Keep landscape trimmed up and thinned out from the ground up. Cane toads will hide under thick bushes.

- Take away anything that holds water. Cane toads seek out water sources!

- Do not keep pet food outside or on the lanai. Cane toads are attracted to pet food.

- Add screens to the end of downspouts. Cane toads will hide there during the day to get out of the sun.

- Check underground propane and utility boxes. Cane toads will use these areas for a hiding spot to get out of the sun during the day.

Below Pictures: Cane toads preying on Florida's wildlife. These pictures were taken by our Wildlife Technicians while working properties during the nighttime hours.

The Diet of the Cane Toad  

Learn how Cane toads are harming Florida’s ecosystem

Not only can the toxin from a Cane toad harm wildlife if they ingest it, but our Wildlife Technicians have found Cane toads eating wildlife too! We have found adult Cane toads eating softshell turtle hatchlings, rodents, and baby birds.

Cane toads are also found to be cannibalistic. This means that the adult Cane toads will prey on the smaller, juvenile Cane toads for a food source. This does help to eliminate some of the smaller Cane toads that have just grown their legs from the tadpole stage. Although this helps somewhat with the large numbers, it is still not enough to keep the population under control.  

Cane toads compete with our native species for their food source. This includes bugs and small insects. The Cane toads enjoy receiving an easy meal, and no better place for a toad then right underneath a light at night. The exterior lights that are left on at night attracts bugs closer to the home. The bugs will bring in small treefrogs and lizards, which will also attract the Cane toads. By turning off lights at night or switching to a bug light and/or motion sensor light, it will remove the food-chain, making it a less desirable place for the Cane toadto be.

Removing Eggs and Tadpoles 

Control the population from all lifecycles

The Cane toad eggs look like little black marbles attached together with a long string. They are in this stage of life for such a short period time, that it is hard to find and remove them. When the female first lays her eggs, they can be found in the water against the lake banks.

The Cane toad tadpoles are much easier to notice, and in some cases, they are hard NOT to notice! In the water, they stay close together in a tight clutch and can appear to look like a big black cloud in the water.

Cane Toad Tadpoles VS Native Tadpoles

Not all tadpoles are bad  

It is important not to remove the native tadpoles that are in the water. The goal is to remove only the invasive Cane toad tadpoles so the natives can start to build their population back.

Pesky Varmints uses the toxin from an adult Cane toad to lure in the Cane toad tadpoles. Once a drop of the toxin is placed in the water, the Cane toad tadpoles start to swim quickly over to it. The native tadpoles are not attracted to it and will not go towards it.

Once the tadpoles have been correctly identified as Cane toads, it is important to remove those clutches from the water. Scooping them out is the best way to get most of them removed. Traps might be placed in lakes that have a lot of grass around the banks to lure them out of their hiding spots. These traps are not left for long periods of time, they are only in the water while our Wildlife Technicians are on site to monitor them. We can determine what is needed for the communities’ lakes to take the proper steps in removing the Cane toad tadpoles.  

Above Picture: Adult Cane toads removed from one community in one night in Naples by Pesky Varmints. These Cane toads were donated to the Naples Conservancy to help study and research these invasive toads. Picture courtesy of Naples Conservancy.

Cane Toads in SWFL

Invasive species, invading Florida   

An invasive species is defined as a species that is not native to Florida’s ecosystem and can cause, or is likely to cause, environmental harm. The Cane toads, also known as Bufo toads, is one of many invasive species that has hopped into Southwest Florida and doesn’t plan on leaving on its own. It is important to know about the Cane toads when living in the area, especially with pets.

The Cane toads were originally introduced to Florida back in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Their native land is South America. Man brought them to the sugarcane fields, south of Okeechobee, to help control the bug population in a natural way. Once the population of Cane toads were settled, they did not actually help as a natural pest control like Man thought they would, so they moved on to other ideas. Meanwhile, the Cane toads were able to sustain a population and their numbers started to increase.

Cane toads reproduce very quickly. One female Cane toad can have up to 36,000 eggs in one sitting, twice a year. Once the eggs are laid in the water, they hatch into tadpoles within 48 hours. The tadpoles are then in that stage of life for three to five weeks, depending on how warm the water is. Breeding times occur twice in a year, the first in the early spring and the second occurring later in summer.  

Cane Toads VS Native Toads and Frogs

Protect Florida’s native species

Being able to identify a Cane toad is important in protecting Florida’s native species. Cane toads generally range in size from 6 to 9 inches long. Cane toads can be confused with Florida’s native Southern toad. Adult cane toads are much larger than adult Southern toads, which only grow to a maximum size of approximately 3.6 inches. Their markings can be similar.

One of the easiest ways to tell the Cane toad and Native toad apart is by looking on top of their head. The Southern toad, native to Florida, has a crest on top of their head. Think of the crest as a crown, and they should be treated as royalty. The toads with the crown can be left alone. The invasive Cane toad has a smooth head. They do not have the crest like the Southern toads.

Treefrogs can often get confused with the juvenile Cane toads. Always remember that toads, in general, are strictly ground dwellers. They do not have the suction on their feet like frogs do to climb walls and ceilings. Even the juvenile Cane toads will be found on the ground only.

The Cuban treefrog population is large throughout Florida. Although Cuban treefrogs are an invasive species to Florida, they do not have the toxin like the Cane toads and are not harmful to your pets. They cause harm to the ecosystem because they compete for the same food source as our native toads and frogs, and they also prey on native frogs and lizards.

Native Toads and Frogs

Above Picture: Adult ‘breeder’ Cane toads removed from one community in one night in Naples, Florida by Pesky Varmints. These Cane toads were donated to the biologist at the Naples Conservancy to help study and research these invasive toads. Picture courtesy of the Naples Conservancy.

The Scoop of the Day

Helping the ecosystem hop forward

The Cane toads have no real predators in the Florida’s ecosystem. They reproduce rapidly and the population can easily grow out of control. Being an invasive species, eradication is not a realistic goal. Controlling the population from all ends of their lifecycle will help to bring their population down to a manageable level. Removing the Cane toad eggs, tadpoles and adult breeder toads will bring the number of Cane toads down, while raising the Southern toad population. Regular removal visits will start to balance out the ecosystem within your community.

The mating call of the Cane toad can become very loud during breeding times. The first round of breeding occurs February into March when the weather starts to warm up. It continues throughout March into April. The Cane toads start to come out of their winter hibernation stage as the temperatures get warmer. They immediately begin their mating calls and start to breed. The second round of breeding occurs around August going into September and can last throughout October. Although the Cane toads do not actually breed in the summertime, it is still a very active time for the Cane toads. The weather is hot and humid, making it the perfect climate for these pesky toads. When the weather cools down in December and January, the Cane toads go dormant.

Pesky Varmints recommends completing Cane toad control visits between the most active times, going from February to November. We can offer the perfect program for your community to help control the Cane toad population. Email us at to find out more details.  

Frequently Asked  Cane Toad Questions:

Keeping your home and pets safe while protecting Florida’s ecosystem

How are Cane toads harming our wildlife and pets? These invasive toads’ prey on our natural wildlife, including our native toads and tree frogs. The Pesky Varmints team has even seen these toads eating our native wildlife such as softshell turtles, rodents and even baby birds! They also compete for the same food source, which poses a threat to our native critters. The Cane Toads release a poison that is highly toxic to your pets and native animals and can cause serious illness and even death.

Where did they come from? These toads are native to South America but were brought to Florida in the 1930's and 1940's to help control beetles and insects in the sugar cane fields. These toads are strictly ground dwellers, they do not hop high or climb so it was discovered they were not a very good pest control when they couldn’t reach the bugs! Being a nonnative species to Florida, they have no known predators here, and the fact that they breed twice a year is the perfect storm for the population to get out of control.

When are they most active? Cane toads are most active during the nighttime hours. Sitting in the hot Florida sun will dry their skin up, which is why they try to hide out in a shady place during the daytime. Like most amphibians, these toads love the hot and humid weather, and the summer rains bring them out and about.

How can I be sure I am seeing a Cane toad and not our Native toads? The best way is to take a picture of what you are seeing and email it to us at We have trained professionals that can help identify the species for you.

Who can help to eradicate them? You can! If you see a toad around your home, remove it and humanely euthanize it. For safety purposes, we recommend gloves and eye protection. Get a plastic bag and pick it up the way you would pick up after your pet when you’re on a walk. It wouldn’t hurt to double bag it! Put it in an old cooler with ice until your next garbage day. Also recommended is putting it in your freezer… but who wants a Cane toad in their freezer… so a cooler with ice is the alternative. Look to eliminate any hiding places and standing water on your property. Thin out your landscape from the ground up so there are not any places they can hide.

Why is it important to get involved? This invasive species has no known predators in the Florida ecosystem, and they breed rapidly. It is important for everyone to help eradicate these poisonous toads to help protect all your furry family members and the beautiful Florida wildlife. 

Share on Social Media

 Like us on Facebook 

Follow us on Instagram @PeskyVarmintsFL

Call us today to see how Pesky Varmints can help you:

239-353-PEST (7378)