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Record number of toxic bufo toads posing threat to Florida pets

Posted at 8:25 AM, Jun 28, 2022

Pet owners need to keep an eye out for toxic bufo toads as they surge in numbers. The invasive species can kill your pet in as little as 15 minutes.

Bufo toads, also known as cane toads, are moving into Florida by the thousands and can pose a significant threat to pets. They secrete a milky-white toxin, known as bufotoxin, from glands on the back of their heads

MAP: Reported sightings of toxic bufo toads in Florida

"It takes one toad to kill your dog, so it's important that you know everybody understands that these guys live here, we can just help reduce the numbers," Jeannine Tilford, who owns the toad removal company Toad Busters said.

Tilford said they're seeing more toads than ever and sadly more dog deaths.

"This year it's actually crazy. We're noticing that there's a lot more toads than usual," Tilford said. "I think partly because all these new developments are coming in out west and they're building a lot of ponds in there so it's attracting the toads."

Bufo toads can reach the size of a plate but they're poisonous at all stages of their life.

How to spot them

  • Reddish-brown to grayish-brown in color
  • Light-yellow or beige belly
  • Enlarged glands behind the eyes that angle down to the shoulders
  • 6 to 9 inches in length
  • Do not have ridges across the head, that's a southern toad

What to do if your pet bites or swallows a bufo toad

If your dog comes in contact with a toad, it's best to carefully rinse your dog's mouth out. Tilford said you can also use activated charcoal, which will bind with the toxin. Some of the warning signs are dilated eyes, heavy panting and red gums.

Symptoms may include:

  • Frantic or disoriented behavior
  • Brick red gums
  • Seizures
  • Foaming at the mouth

What to do:

  • Wash toxins forward out of mouth using a hose for 10 minutes being careful not to direct water down the throat
  • Wipe gums/tongue with dish towel to remove toxins
  • Get your pet to the vet!

What to do if you come into contact with one

  • Wash your hands thoroughly
  • Wear gloves when handling

How to keep them off your property

Remove places where cane toads or their prey can hide or seek shelter:

  • Cut your grass regularly and keep it short
  • Fill in any holes around structures
  • Trim the underside of shrubs
  • Keep branches or riprap off the ground
  • Clear away brush piles
  • Remove clutter

Remove food that can attract cane toads and their prey:

  • Feed pets indoors when possible
  • Bring outdoor pet food and water bowls indoors at night
  • Clean up any food scraps from pet bowls or outside tables and grills