Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Rhinella marina
(cane toad)

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Datasheet

Rhinella marina (cane toad)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Natural Enemy
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Rhinella marina
  • Preferred Common Name
  • cane toad
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Amphibia
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Cane toads (Rhinella marina) were introduced to many countries as biological control agents for various insect pests of sugarcane and other crops. The cane toads have proved to be pests the...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult female. Tanamai desert, Northern Teritory, Australia.
TitleFemale
CaptionRhinella marina (cane toad); adult female. Tanamai desert, Northern Teritory, Australia.
Copyright©Benjamint444/via wikipedia - GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 only
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult female. Tanamai desert, Northern Teritory, Australia.
FemaleRhinella marina (cane toad); adult female. Tanamai desert, Northern Teritory, Australia.©Benjamint444/via wikipedia - GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 only
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult male. Tanamai desert, Northern Teritory, Australia.
TitleMale
CaptionRhinella marina (cane toad); adult male. Tanamai desert, Northern Teritory, Australia.
Copyright©Benjamint444/via wikipedia - GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 only
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult male. Tanamai desert, Northern Teritory, Australia.
MaleRhinella marina (cane toad); adult male. Tanamai desert, Northern Teritory, Australia.©Benjamint444/via wikipedia - GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 only
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult. Australia. November 2003.
TitleAdult
CaptionRhinella marina (cane toad); adult. Australia. November 2003.
Copyright©David McClenaghan/CSIRO/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult. Australia. November 2003.
AdultRhinella marina (cane toad); adult. Australia. November 2003.©David McClenaghan/CSIRO/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult. Australia. November 2003.
TitleAdult
CaptionRhinella marina (cane toad); adult. Australia. November 2003.
Copyright©David McClenaghan/CSIRO/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult. Australia. November 2003.
AdultRhinella marina (cane toad); adult. Australia. November 2003.©David McClenaghan/CSIRO/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult, in upright posture.
TitleAdult
CaptionRhinella marina (cane toad); adult, in upright posture.
Copyright©Pam Fuller/USGS/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult, in upright posture.
AdultRhinella marina (cane toad); adult, in upright posture.©Pam Fuller/USGS/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult, dorsal view. Australia. November 2003.
TitleAdult
CaptionRhinella marina (cane toad); adult, dorsal view. Australia. November 2003.
Copyright©David McClenaghan/CSIRO/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult, dorsal view. Australia. November 2003.
AdultRhinella marina (cane toad); adult, dorsal view. Australia. November 2003.©David McClenaghan/CSIRO/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult, close view of head, showing parotid gland. (pale morph)
TitleAdult
CaptionRhinella marina (cane toad); adult, close view of head, showing parotid gland. (pale morph)
Copyright©Alex Popovkin/Florula of Fazenda Rio do Negro, Bahia, Brazil/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult, close view of head, showing parotid gland. (pale morph)
AdultRhinella marina (cane toad); adult, close view of head, showing parotid gland. (pale morph)©Alex Popovkin/Florula of Fazenda Rio do Negro, Bahia, Brazil/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult, close view of head, showing parotid gland. (pale morph)
TitleAdult
CaptionRhinella marina (cane toad); adult, close view of head, showing parotid gland. (pale morph)
Copyright©Alex Popovkin/Florula of Fazenda Rio do Negro, Bahia, Brazil/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult, close view of head, showing parotid gland. (pale morph)
AdultRhinella marina (cane toad); adult, close view of head, showing parotid gland. (pale morph)©Alex Popovkin/Florula of Fazenda Rio do Negro, Bahia, Brazil/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Rhinella marina (cane toad); mating pair (female below). Chocoan tropical rainforest, Ecuador. January 2008.
TitleMating pair
CaptionRhinella marina (cane toad); mating pair (female below). Chocoan tropical rainforest, Ecuador. January 2008.
Copyright©Santiago Ron/via flickr - CC BY-ND 2.0
Rhinella marina (cane toad); mating pair (female below). Chocoan tropical rainforest, Ecuador. January 2008.
Mating pairRhinella marina (cane toad); mating pair (female below). Chocoan tropical rainforest, Ecuador. January 2008.©Santiago Ron/via flickr - CC BY-ND 2.0
Rhinella marina (cane toad); juvenile.
TitleJuvenile
CaptionRhinella marina (cane toad); juvenile.
Copyright©Taran Rampersad/KnowProSE/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Rhinella marina (cane toad); juvenile.
JuvenileRhinella marina (cane toad); juvenile.©Taran Rampersad/KnowProSE/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult female in hand. This shows the extreme size these amphibians can attain. Saul, Saint-Laurent du Maroni, French Guiana. January 2000.
TitleAdult female
CaptionRhinella marina (cane toad); adult female in hand. This shows the extreme size these amphibians can attain. Saul, Saint-Laurent du Maroni, French Guiana. January 2000.
Copyright©Bernard Dupont/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Rhinella marina (cane toad); adult female in hand. This shows the extreme size these amphibians can attain. Saul, Saint-Laurent du Maroni, French Guiana. January 2000.
Adult femaleRhinella marina (cane toad); adult female in hand. This shows the extreme size these amphibians can attain. Saul, Saint-Laurent du Maroni, French Guiana. January 2000.©Bernard Dupont/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Rhinella marina (cane toad); from their headquarters at Fogg Dam, near Darwin, Australia, Prof. Rick Shine and his team are at the front line in Australia's war on the cane toad. Introduced seventy years ago to control agricultural pests, cane toads have spread rapidly through Kakadu National Park and are now approaching Darwin. Millions of dollars have been spent on failed attempts to control the pest. Prof. Shine has discovered that cane toads can advance as much as one kilometre in a night.
TitleProf. Rick Shine with cane toad
CaptionRhinella marina (cane toad); from their headquarters at Fogg Dam, near Darwin, Australia, Prof. Rick Shine and his team are at the front line in Australia's war on the cane toad. Introduced seventy years ago to control agricultural pests, cane toads have spread rapidly through Kakadu National Park and are now approaching Darwin. Millions of dollars have been spent on failed attempts to control the pest. Prof. Shine has discovered that cane toads can advance as much as one kilometre in a night.
Copyright©Terri Shine/www.canetoadsinoz.com
Rhinella marina (cane toad); from their headquarters at Fogg Dam, near Darwin, Australia, Prof. Rick Shine and his team are at the front line in Australia's war on the cane toad. Introduced seventy years ago to control agricultural pests, cane toads have spread rapidly through Kakadu National Park and are now approaching Darwin. Millions of dollars have been spent on failed attempts to control the pest. Prof. Shine has discovered that cane toads can advance as much as one kilometre in a night.
Prof. Rick Shine with cane toadRhinella marina (cane toad); from their headquarters at Fogg Dam, near Darwin, Australia, Prof. Rick Shine and his team are at the front line in Australia's war on the cane toad. Introduced seventy years ago to control agricultural pests, cane toads have spread rapidly through Kakadu National Park and are now approaching Darwin. Millions of dollars have been spent on failed attempts to control the pest. Prof. Shine has discovered that cane toads can advance as much as one kilometre in a night.©Terri Shine/www.canetoadsinoz.com

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Rhinella marina (Linnaeus, 1758)

Preferred Common Name

  • cane toad

Other Scientific Names

  • Bufo agua Clark 1916
  • Bufo marinis Barbour 1916
  • Bufo marinus Mertens 1969
  • Bufo marinus Schneider 1799
  • Bufo marinus marinus Mertens 1972
  • Bufo strumosus Court 1858
  • Chaunus marinus Frost et al. 2006

International Common Names

  • English: bufo toad; giant American toad; giant toad; marine Toad; Suriname toad

Local Common Names

  • Caribbean: crapaud; kwapp
  • Dominican Republic: maco pempen; Maco toro
  • Germany: Aga-Kröte

Summary of Invasiveness

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Cane toads (Rhinella marina) were introduced to many countries as biological control agents for various insect pests of sugarcane and other crops. The cane toads have proved to be pests themselves. They will feed on almost any terrestrial animal and compete with native amphibians for food and breeding habitats. Their toxic secretions are known to cause illness and death in domestic animals that come into contact with them, such as dogs and cats, and wildlife, such as snakes and lizards. When threatened, they are able to squirt the toxic secretion over a metre, causing extreme pain if rubbed into the eyes. Human fatalities have been recorded following ingestion of the eggs or adults.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Amphibia
  •                     Order: Anura
  •                         Family: Bufonidae
  •                             Genus: Rhinella
  •                                 Species: Rhinella marina

Description

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Cane toads are heavily built with short legs. They can sometimes grow up to 30cm long, with 20cm not uncommon for females and and average of 12-15cm in many regions. Males are slightly smaller. Fingers lack webbing, but the toes are heavily webbed. Adults have a rough, warty skin, coloured tan, brown or dark brown, dull green or black. The tympanum is distinct, about one half to two thirds the size of the eye. Venom glands are aggregated together to form large and distinctive parotoid glands, found above each shoulder. These glands are able to ooze venom. (Gautherot, 2000)

Distribution

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Native range: Cane toads are indigenous to northern South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Paraguay, Venezuela, the Guianas, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago), Central America, and Mexico northward to extreme southern Texas.

Known introduced range: Most introductions were made as early attempts to use biological control against various beetle pests of sugar cane, banana and other cash crops (Hinkley 1962). Introduced to: Hawaii, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and the Republic of Palau: found in much of the Caribbean, including Antigua, Barbados, Bermuda, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada and Carriacou Island, Guadeloupe, Grand Cayman Island, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica (including Cabarita Island), Martinique, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and St. Vincent. In the Pacific, Australia, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Cook Islands, Micronesia, Fiji Islands, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu (USGS). Other worldwide introductions include Egypt, Mauritius and Diego Garcia of the Chagos Archipelago (Easteal, 1981, 1986; Lever, 2001).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

EgyptAbsent, Formerly present1937Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
MauritiusAbsent, Intercepted onlyInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: 1930s-1940s

Asia

British Indian Ocean TerritoryPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: Presumed to be between 1980 and 1989
-Chagos ArchipelagoPresentIntroducedInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: presumed to be between 1980-1989
JapanPresentCABI (Undated)Present based on regional distribution.
-Bonin IslandsPresentIntroduced1949InvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
-Ryukyu IslandsPresentIntroduced2000InvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: first discovered in December 2000
PhilippinesPresentIntroduced1934Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
TaiwanAbsent, Formerly present1935Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
ThailandAbsent, Formerly present1975Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)

North America

AnguillaPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: before 1916
ArubaPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
BarbadosPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011); Schotman (1989)First reported: c. 1833
BelizePresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
BermudaPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011); Schotman (1989)First reported: 1885, C. 1875 or 1885 (maybe 1812)
British Virgin IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
Cayman IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: Before 1887
Costa RicaPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
CubaAbsent, Formerly present1920Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
DominicaAbsent, Formerly presentInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
El SalvadorPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
GrenadaPresentIntroducedInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: c. 1870s
-Carriacou IslandPresentIntroduced1999Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: Before 1914
GuatemalaPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
HaitiPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
HondurasPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
JamaicaPresentIntroduced1844InvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011); Schotman (1989)
MartiniquePresentIntroducedInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011); Schotman (1989)First reported: before 1844
MexicoPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
MontserratPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: c. 1900, Before 1879
NicaraguaPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
PanamaPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: c. 1920
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentIntroducedInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: before 1904
Saint LuciaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedInvasiveJn Pierre (2008); Daltry (2009); Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)Severely impacting on biodiversity; First reported: before 1879
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: before 1916
Trinidad and TobagoPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
U.S. Virgin IslandsPresentIntroduced1934Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
United StatesPresentCABI (Undated)Present based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: early 1960s
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced1932Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
-TexasPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroduced1953Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
AustraliaPresentCABI Data Mining (2001)
-New South WalesPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: 1964-1966
-Northern TerritoryPresentIntroducedInvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: 1982-1983
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced1935InvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011); Greathead and Greathead (1992)
-Western AustraliaPresentIntroduced2000InvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
Federated States of MicronesiaPresentIntroducedInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: before 1954
FijiPresentIntroduced1936Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
GuamPresentIntroduced1937InvasiveInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
Marshall IslandsPresent, Few occurrencesIntroducedInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: 1939-1941
PalauPresentIntroducedInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)First reported: after WWII
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroduced1937Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
TuvaluPresentIntroduced1939Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)

South America

ArgentinaPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
BoliviaPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
BrazilPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
-ParaPresentCABI Data Mining (2001)
ColombiaPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
EcuadorPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
French GuianaPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011); Schotman (1989)
GuyanaPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011); Schotman (1989)
ParaguayPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
PeruPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
SurinamePresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)
VenezuelaPresentNativeInvasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) (2011)

Habitat

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Cane toads' original habitat, before their dispersal by humans, was seasonal Amazonian savanna, with small fresh water lakes. Cane toads are found in rain forests, both in their native range and introduced range, such as in Hawaii and New Guinea, though not at high densities (Fred Kraus pers.comm). However, they can now be found in many places, such as man-made ponds, gardens, drain pipes, debris, under cement piles and beneath houses. Cane toads will usually stay on dry land and reproduce in any shallow water near its surroundings. Toads and tadpoles are able to tolerate very high levels of salinity. Tadpoles have been observed in water, metres from the open ocean.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Multiple
Terrestrial
 
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Wetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Freshwater
 
Lakes Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rivers / streams Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Ponds Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Nutrition
Cane toads eat “almost any terrestrial animal”, although they are more likely to consume animals active at ground level during the night. The major diet items are insects, including grass-hoppers, caterpillars and ants, together with millipedes and land snails (Hinkley, 1962 in SPREP, 2000).
The cane toad is opportunistic in its feeding habits and will consume almost anything that it is able to catch (Zug and Zug, 1979 in Lever, 2001). Terrestrial arthropods make up the bulk of the diet, but snails, crabs, small vertebrates (mammals, birds, lizards and frogs), pet food and human faeces may also be consumed (Lever, 2001). Cane toads will gorge themselves if food is in abundance. Unusual items that cane toads have been observed eating include rotting garbage, a coral snake (Micrurus circinalis), fledgling birds and a lit cigarette butt (Lever, 2001).

Reproduction
Cane toads breed between the months of April and September in the Northern Hemisphere and they can be heard calling their mates, beginning in late March. In the Southern Hemisphere, in Australia, it has been noticed that the male cane toad calls in any month of the year, peaking during the wet season. Every year the female cane toad produces two clutches of about 8,000 to 35,000 eggs. The eggs are externally fertilised by the male's sperm. The eggs can be found floating on the surface of water in a jelly-like string or wrapped around vegetation and other debris in the water. The age and size of the female will determine how many eggs the toad will produce (Honolulu Zoo).

Lifecycle stages
Cane toad eggs hatch within 24 to 72 hours of laying into tiny, shiny black tadpoles. Tadpoles metamorphose after two to seven weeks (Alford et al. 1995), becoming very small (10-12mm) terrestrial juveniles. These small juveniles experience very high mortality, and unlike adults or larger juveniles they tend to be diurnal.
It has been estimated that less 0.5 percent of cane toads toad eggs survive to maturity. It takes a year for the toads to reach maturity, when they will be about 75mm long. Cane toads survival in the wild is unknown, but unlikely to be more than 5 years. Animals kept in captivity are estimated to live 10-40 years (Honolulu Zoo).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Introduction pathways to new locations
Acclimatisation societies: Cane toads have been introduced to many locations around the world as a biological control agent for crop pests (NRM, 2001).
Natural dispersal: Cane toads have spread over large areas of Australia under their own power (Lever, 2001). In the north of their Australian range, dispersal is primarily effected by adults hopping large distances (up to about 55km per year), in relatively straight lines. Cane toads in northern Australia are thus the fastest moving anurans yet recorded. This remarkable dispersal ability appears to be the result of strong selection operating on toads over the last seventy years (Philips et al. 2006).
Road vehicles (long distance): Cane toads have been transported in Australia by large freight trucks or 'road trains' (Sydney Morning Herald, 2002).
Seafreight (container/bulk): Cane toads have been found on Norfolk Islands

Local dispersal methods
Natural dispersal (local): Cane toads have spread over large areas of Australia under their own power (Lever, 2001). In the north of their Australian range (on the invasion front), dispersal is primarily effected by adults hopping large distances (up to about 55km per year), in relatively straight lines. Cane toads in northern Australia are thus the fastest moving anurans yet recorded.
This remarkable dispersal ability appears to be the result of strong selection operating on toads in the invasion front over the last seventy years (Philips et al. 2006).
Road vehicles: Cane toads have been transported in Australia by large freight trucks or 'road trains' (Sydney Morning Herald, 2002).
Water currents: Free-swimming cane toad tadpoles are liable to be swept away during flash floods.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Acclimatization societies Yes
Self-propelled Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Bulk freight or cargo Yes
Land vehicles Yes Yes
Ship structures above the water line Yes
Water Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production Positive
Human health Negative
Native fauna Negative

Impact

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General Impacts

Compiled by IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
 
Cane toads will eat “almost any terrestrial animal”, although they are more likely to consume those active at ground level during the night (Hinkley 1962). Covacevich and Archer, (1975) in their paper on the effects of the cane toad on indigenous verteberates in Australia, state that snakes, such as the carpet python, the black headed python, death adder and some other snakes have been found dead with the cane toad in their mouths or guts. Studies in Australia where the range of the cane toad is ever expanding have shown that the cane toad plays an important role in structuring native anuran communities (Crossland, 2000) via direct and indirect mechanisms and is thus a threat to the survival of native Australian fauna (Catling et al.,2003).
 
Toads have been implicated in the decline of populations of monitor lizards in Guam (Jackson 1962, Dryden 1965). Pernetta and Watling (1978) consider that the toads do not interact with native frogs because they use different habitats; the frogs are either along stream banks or in the foliage of dense forest. Villadolid (1956) found rats and mice in stomachs of toads in the Philippine Islands. Hinkley concluded that this toad is “economically neutral” because it consumes both “harmful” and “beneficial” invertebrates.
 
Secretions from the parotoid glands are produced when the toad is provoked or localised pressure is applied, such as a predator grasping the toad in its mouth (NRM, 2001). The toxic secretions are known to cause illness and death in both domestic and wild animals that come into contact with toads, such as dogs, cats, snakes and lizards. The toxin causes extreme pain if rubbed into the eyes (NRM, 2001). Human fatalities have been reported, but are probably confined to people who deliberately concentrate the toxin and then ingest it.
 
Overall, the major impacts are on predatory species that attempt to eat toads and then die; in particular, species that normally specialise amphibians, such as Mertens water monitor in northern Australia.

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Erinna newcombi (Newcomb's snail)VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable); USA ESA listing as threatened speciesHawaiiPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2006
Peltophryne lemur (Puerto Rican crested toad)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered); USA ESA listing as threatened speciesPuerto RicoPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 1992

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Poisoning
  • Predation
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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In the past, cane toads were introduced as a biological control agent for insect pests of sugarcane and other crops.

Bufotenine toxin produced by the cane toad is used as an aphrodisiac and hair-restorer in Japan. In mainland China it is used to lower the heart rate of patients undergoing cardiac surgery (Musgrave, 1996). The toxin is used by South American Indians on hunting arrows. The toxin is sometimes used as a narcotic by some people (Lever, 2001).
Cane toads were used for pregnancy testing in humans. A woman's urine was injected subcutaneously into the lymph glands of a male toad, resulting in spermatazoa becoming present in the toad's urine if the woman was pregnant (Berra, 1998 in Lever, 2001).

Uses List

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Drugs, stimulants, social uses

  • Miscellaneous drugs, stimulants and social uses
  • Narcotic

Environmental

  • Biological control

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Cosmetic
  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Management Information
 
Compiled by IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
 
Preventative measures: The main controls on the spread of cane toads in southern Australia are quarantine checks and public awareness and response. One publicity campaign on the north coast of New South Wales resulted in 100 people collecting more than 900 cane toads.

Physical: Cane toads can be excluded from garden ponds and dams by a 50cm high barrier, such as a thick hedge or a wire mesh fence. Toads may be killed humanely by putting them inside a plastic bag or container and placing them in a freezer (Brandt and Mazzotti, 1990).

Biological: In 1994, the CSIRO Division of Wildlife and Ecology (Australia) was assessing the pathogenicity and specificity of viruses against cane toads. Scientists at the CSIRO Animal Health Laboratory in Victoria have been searching for biological controls of cane toads and in 2001 they began investigating gene technology as a mechanism of control. Environment Australia have launched a project for the development of a cane toad biological control. The aim is to develop a self disseminating viral vector to disrupt the development of the toad. Scientists at the University of Adelaide (Australia) have isolated a sex pheromone in a native Australian frog; they hope that a similar pheromone will be found in cane toads that could be used to disrupt the breeding cycle. These are long term solutions.


Scientists at Sydney University have identified a parasitic worm that attacks the cane toads' lungs, stunting their growth and, in most cases, killing them. They believe the parasite has the potential to reduce toad populations dramatically.

Bibliography

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Distribution References

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Contributors

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Principal sources: Lever, C. 2001. The Cane Toad: the history and ecology of a successful colonist. Westbury Publishing, West Yorkshire. 230pp.
Gautherot, J., 2000. Bufo marinus. 2001 James Cook University.

    Compiled by: IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group Updates with support from the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme (OTEP) project XOT603, a joint project with the Cayman Islands Government - Department of Environment
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010

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