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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Species Fact Profile: Cane Toad (Bufo marinus)

Cane (Marine) Toad
Bufo marinus (Linneaeus, 1758)

Range: Northern Mexico through northern South America
Habitat: Forest
Diet: Insects, Crustaceans, Gastropods, Plant Matter
Social Grouping: Non-Territorial
Reproduction:  Males congregate in still water to call for mates (can reproduce year round), up to 30000 eggs, reproduce in second year, eggs hatch in 2-7 days
Lifespan: 10 Years (Captivity)
Conservation Status:  IUCN Least Concern

  • On average, measure 24 centimeters long and weigh 110 grams; the sexes look alike
  • Grey/olive/brown dorsal skin is covered with many warts, while the ventral skin is yellow or white with brown speckles; a high bony ridge is formed on the snout
  • During the colder or drier parts of the year, they remain underground in shallow excavations
  • They secrete a white, viscous poison (bufotoxin) from their large paratoid glands; this can result in vomiting, paralysis, or death if a predator ingests it, or touches it to a mucous membrane
  • Newly-metamorphosed juveniles are diurnal, but become nocturnal as adults
  • Despite the nickname "marine toad", they have little tolerance for saltwater and will die in seawater
  • They have been been introduced around the world (Australia, New Guinea, Philippines, Fiji, Caribbean, Hawaii, USA), both accidentally and deliberately, in an attempt to control cane beetles.  They are considered a major invasive species, killing native predators which lack immunity to their poisons and outcompeting native amphibian species
  • Some Australian predators (frogmouths, water rats, ibises) have learned to safely eat cane toads, flipping them on their backs and eating the soft underbellies, avoiding the toxic glands on the back


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