Number of toxic cane toads growing in SWFL during rainy season

Reporter: Michelle Alvarez
Published: Updated:

As the rainy season continues, local animal trappers say we’re likely to see more invasive cane toads, especially after this week’s rain.

“Basically, they’re a menace to Southwest Florida,” said Seth Brattain.

The poisonous amphibians are mostly known for their toxin, called bufotoxin, which primarily affects domestic dogs. Cane toads are an easy target for dogs, and even a quick chew can kill pets.

“If your pet ingests it, it can kill it within 20 minutes. It can also kill humans if you ingest enough of the toxin. They only come out at night,” Brattain added.

Seth is the founder of Slethreptiles, an animal removal company serving all the counties of Southwest Florida. He recently began the patent process on a new type of trap that attracts insects first and then toads.

“They hang out around. If you have an AC drip, they hang out. In that area, they usually go around the perimeter of homes. They hang out if you have a light where bugs are swarming. They also eat dog food and cat food. So if you put food out for cats, you’re gonna have cane toads everywhere,” he said.

Patrick Corignolo and his business partner and friend Andy joined forces to create ā€œPupDefense,ā€ a product designed to keep cane toads away.

“It’s vermiculite. It has all-natural ingredients, no toxic ingredients, so it’s safe for pets or other animals. You spray it around and sprinkle around your property. It works like an invisible fence. And yeah, you apply twice a month. If you have a severe problem, we recommend doing it more often,” Corignolo explained.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said cane toads are reddish-brown to grayish-brown in color, with a light yellow or beige belly.

“I go out and actively look for them at night,” said Lee Smith, a retired biology teacher. “I wear a headlamp, and I have snake tongs, which are like warm grabbers. And I carry a laundry bag, and I wait until dark because they’re completely nocturnal.”

Cane toads have enlarged glands behind the eyes and 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.

“All this rain we just got, and the next week or two, it’s going to be a nightmare. They’re literally going to be everywhere. The females lay 1000s of eggs, and their survival rate is at like 99% because there’s no natural predators here,” Brattain said.

If you have a cane toad infestation on or near your home, make sure to call a local trapper to remove them.

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