8 On Your Side Warning: Poisonous Bufo toads in Tampa Bay area can kill pets

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LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – The SPCA Florida is warning pet owners about a poisonous toad in the Tampa Bay area that can kill your pets. The toads are found throughout our area.

People living all along Lakeland’s Lake Morton District have recently spotted numerous Bufo toads, which are also known as Cane toads. These toads can kill small pets. When the toads are alarmed, they release poison. A small amount of the poison is enough to kill a dog or cat.

Pets can be at risk if they come into contact with these toads by licking them or licking the poison they secrete. “The toxin is very irritating to the mouth so it could be red. They may go into shock in a short time, or they may be drunk acting. They will probably be pawing at the mouth,” Florida SPCA Veterinarian Dr. Greg Cooper said.

Cooper said the first thing you should do if your pet is affected is to wash its mouth. “You want to wash the mouth out with cool water and try to direct the water where it’s going to force the toxin out of its mouth,” he said.

Then get them to the emergency room. “The toxin can start taking affect in a matter of minutes after they ingest it. They have to act very quickly or they could lose their pet,” Cooper said.

8 On Your Side caught up with Lisa Ricigliano, who owns and operates L & R Wildlife Services, LLC in central Florida. She sets traps and humanely removes the toads. She has several traps set up in the Lake Morton area. Ricigliano recommends anyone who comes into contact with a Bufo Toad trap it if possible.

“Contain it by placing a bucket over it with something to weigh it down, and it’s best to call someone like me to remove it,” she said.

Water or food left out for pets can attract these toads. Ricigliano suggests not leaving these things out if you want to keep Bufo toads away.

Here’s how to tell if you’re looking at a Bufo toad.

“The Bufo toad is quite large. It has a large triangular-shaped gland on either sides of its neck. The Bufo toad is also lacking the two ridges that would be between the eyes of a native southern toad,” Ricigliano said.

The accompanying photos can help you identify a Bufo toad.

Read about a local family whose dog was poisoned by a Bufo toad. Veterinarians say it is a common occurrence.

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