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marine toad, cane toad, giant toad, Bufo toad
Extremely large, brown toad with dry, bumpy skin; huge parotoid glands located from behind the eyes down the side of the body
Averages 10-15 cm (4-6 in)
Typically larger than males
May exceed 1 kg (2 lb)
Feeds on a variety of small animals including insects, lizards, mammals, birds, and other amphibians; will on rare occasions also eat plant matter, and carrion
Averages 5 years
Native to Central and South America; introduced into Australia, Hawaii, Philippines, Puerto Rico, and South Florida
Found in a wide variety of tropical habitats usually near a source of water
Marine toads have the distinction of being one of the only known amphibians to eat plant matter and carrion as adults. The majority of amphibian species are dependant upon live prey as food.
The marine toad is unusual from other members of the Bufonidae family in that it is known to eat stationary objects whereas most members of this family locate prey by movement.
The toxicity of the poison from the marine toad can be lethal to small and medium-sized animals; it also can have negative effects on species as large as dogs. The poison acts strictly as a defensive adaptation.
The number of eggs they lay is immense, numbering over 40,000 for some large females. This amount, which can be laid in a variety of permanent and temporary bodies of water including brackish water, overwhelms predatory species so they are not able to consume all of them. This ensures that some young will survive.
In general, frogs have smooth skin while toads have textured skin.
ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION
These toads were introduced to new habitats all over the world in order to help control an invasive pest, the sugar cane beetle. This introduction was ill thought out and allowed the prolific marine toads uncontrolled access to new tropical and subtropical habitats worldwide.
Usually, we are concerned with a decrease in species' populations, but with marine toads and other introduced species too many is the problem. Introduced species come from habitats where their populations are important to their ecosystem, but when these animals or plants are introduced into an ecosystem that does not have suitable predators, they upset a very delicate balance and can be extremely destructive. Often, they end up eradicating less aggressive indigenous species. In the case of marine toads the species they displace are often the smaller toads and frogs, such as the southern toad and oak toad. Most introduced species find that fitting into a healthy ecosystem is very difficult so instead they move into ecosystems that have already been altered by human influence.
Conant, Roger,and J.T. Collins.
Peterson Field Guides: Reptiles and Amphibians
. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1958.
Flank, Lenny Jr.
. New York: Howell Book House, 1998.
Frogs and Toads of the World
. New York: Fact On File Publications, 1987.