Toxic toads are invading Florida yards, and officials are warning you to protect your pets and children.
Cane toads are an invasive species and can be deadly for cats and dogs.
As a pet owner, Andreas Kunz of Naples knows all about them. His golden retriever got too close to a toad and nearly died.
“There was one of those canes sitting right next to the house wall and he licked him and immediately he started crying. He started foaming out of his mouth,” Kunz said.
While his dog survived, Kunz said it was a life-changing experience.
“We saw a problem and there was no solution, so we found one.”
He joined forces with Patrick Corignolo to create “PupDefense,” a granule designed to keep cane toads away.
“It’s just basically a repellent that helps to keep them away and you put about a gallon per 500 linear foot around your area and it works like an invisible fence,” Corignolo explained.
“Peppermint oil, all organic cinnamon oil and garlic oil…so it will be on their skin, the product tastes bitter, so they don’t like eating or licking it. They don’t like sitting on it and they don’t like the smell,” Kunz said.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission encourages people who see cane toads to kill them. The only law on the books protecting them is an anti-cruelty law.
This map shows the latest reported sightings and captures of the toad.
“It is a dangerous animal that kills dogs and cats, and I feel like the problem is getting bigger and bigger,” Kunz said.
He believes his product will keep your dog or cat safe.
FWC said cane toads are reddish-brown to grayish-brown in color, with a light yellow or beige belly. They have enlarged glands behind the eyes, which angle downward onto the shoulders. Cane toads generally range in size from 6 to 9 inches in length. They can be confused with the native southern toad, but adult cane toads are much larger than adult southern toads which only grow to a maximum of approximately 3 to 4 inches.
Cane toads also do not have ridges across the head, as seen in the southern toad.
Cane toads were first introduced into Florida to control agricultural pests in sugar cane in the 1930s and 40s.
FWC said if your pet licks or swallows a cane toad, wash their mouth out for 10 minutes, wipe the gums and tongue, and get your pet to a vet immediately. The toxins can kill in as little as 15 minutes.
If you’re interested in PupDefense, click here.