Poisonous Bufo toads seen in Tampa Bay area after recent rains

Hillsborough County

Due to the recent rains in the Tampa Bay area and across Florida, more Bufo toads or Cane toads have emerged.

The one in the photo above appeared on the front porch of 8 On Your Side Chief Investigator Steve Andrews’ home in Brandon.

In dry conditions, the toads burrow underground and go into a hibernation state. However, the second half of May was an exceptionally wet stretch for Tampa Bay and the state of Florida forcing the toads above ground to reproduce and lay eggs in any available freshwater habitat, including ponds, lakes, canals and ditches.

The SPCA Florida warns pet owners about the poisonous toad that can kill your pets. The toads are found throughout our area.

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.

Water or food left out for pets can attract these toads. 

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,” Lisa Ricigliano said.

The female Bufo toad is larger than the male. They are usually found on the ground, not in trees. They are also known to have a loud mating call.  

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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