Cane toads are bad for pets, may be good for your health

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Published: Updated:
Person holds a cane toad. (Credit: WINK News)
Person holds a cane toad. (Credit: WINK News)

If you have lived in Southwest Florida long enough, you have seen those pesky hoppers. Experts constantly warn to keep pets away from dangerous cane toads, but their venom may actually help you in the future.

Cane toads are likely in your backyard and deadly.

“I know they are super important for some reason,” said Alexis Fulton, a Florida Gulf Coast University student.

“More and more cane toads in this area primarily from increased development,” said Taylor Hancock, an FGCU graduate student. “Any sort of pet like a dog or a cat…can potentially kill them.”

But these toads’ toxins may hold a potential perk for your health.

Dr. Martha Rosenthal, professor of neuroscience and physiology at FGCU, said these toads have some anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer affects, which may someday help those with devastating diseases.

A chemical in the toads affects serotonin. It is similar to antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. But Dr. Rosenthal warns do not wade into research yourself.

“I feel the need to say don’t go licking toads because there are some toxic substances in there and it’s not going to be fun,” Dr. Rosenthal said.

With rain coming this week, you are likely to see more toads hopping around in Southwest Florida. In these small leathery skin animals, the potentially helpful chemicals are mixed in with the deadly ones. It is a reason why we need a lot of studies before anything goes into a pill bottle.

“I don’t believe it’s just going to be in CVS [Pharmacy],” Dr. Rosenthal said. “But if after years of study, we do find an approved medical use, then it could be a schedule drug.”

Until then, we have to face the toad invasion with caution while scientists work towards what may be some major medical breakthroughs.

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