South Florida Overrun by Poisonous Cane Toads, Posing Risk to Pet Owners

The cane toad secretes a milky liquid that can potentially be fatal to pets who lick or bite it

Photo: Education Images/UIG via Getty

Heavy rains in Florida are bringing much more than the need for an umbrella.

The inclement weather has sparked a massive influx of cane toads, critters with a poison so toxic, pet owners are fearing for their animals’ safety.

Mark Holladay, a lead technician with the South Florida toad removal service Toad Busters, told local NBC affiliate WPTV that the toads certainly pose a risk to pets, and children, too.

“With the warmer winter and then we had a rain two to three weeks ago, a torrential rain, that caused them to go into a breeding cycle,” he said. “They’re not safe for pets or children. If a pet was to ingest too many of them, even at that small size, it would cause a problem.”

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Cane toads — which were first introduced to Florida in 1936 as a means of controlling sugar cane pests — are considered an invasive species by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Their poison is secreted as a milky liquid near the toad’s shoulders, composed of a mix of toxins that mainly affects the heart’s functions, according to National Geographic.

Ray Simonsen Sr., who goes by Ray the Trapper and runs a wildlife removal company of the same name, told local Fox affiliate WFTX that the creatures have been so prevalent, he can easily snag hundreds in one go.

“I can pick up 200 to 300 in an evening, without a blink of an eye,” he said. “They will be in the pine needles, they will be in the mulch, around the landscaping. These guys will just burrow into the mulch, they can be hard to see.”

The outlet reports that since the toad’s toxin has a milky consistency, it’ll stick to a pet’s mouth if the pet licks, bites or picks it up, causing drooling, seizures, loss of coordination, or even death.

According to Holladay, south Floridians won’t be in the clear from the creatures any time soon.

“There will be another influx like this in 22 days when the next batch hatches out,” he said. “And this is in every community in Florida.”

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