The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Rhinella horribilis
Rhinella horribilis
(Mesoamerican Cane Toad)
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Rhinella horribilis (Wiegmann, 1833)

Common name: Mesoamerican Cane Toad

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Rhinella horribilis is a large, warty, brown or dark-mottled terrestrial toad (bufonid) that can weigh up to 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) (Powell et al. 2016). External morphology is indistinguishable from R. marina, requiring radiographical examination of skull morphology or genetic testing to differentiate them (Acevedo et al. 2016; Bessa-Silva et al. 2020).

Like R. marina, these toads have a pair of large parotoid glands that produce bufotoxins, which act as neurotoxins, each extending from just behind the eye, far down the side of the body (Powell et al. 2016; Powell et al. 1998; Lever 2001). The pupils of the eye are horizontal and the irises golden, with distinct ridges running from above their eyes down the snout (Powell et al. 2016). The tadpoles are black dorsally, with a belly that is silvery white with black spots (Ashton and Ashton 1988; Lee 1996). Adult males can be identified by their more robust forelimbs for amplexus than adult females (Lee 2001). Tadpoles of R. marina are illustrated in Lee (1996), McKeown (1996), Lever (2001), Savage (2002), and Duellman (2005).

Unlike native Southern Toads (Anaxyrus terrestris) and American Toads (A. americanus) which have relatively small, oval paratoid glands, the paratoid glands of Cane Toads (Rhinella spp.) are large and triangular paratoid glands. Cane toads also have ridges or crests on top of the head between the eyes.

Size: 100-238 mm SVL (snout-vent length; measurement from snout to base of tailbone). Individuals found in the U.S. rarely exceed 178 mm SVL (Powell 2016, 1998; Lever, 2001).

Native Range: Rhinella horribilis are indigenous from South American west of the Andes to extreme southern Texas (Bessa-Silva et al. 2020).

Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Rhinella horribilis are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
TN202020201South Fork Forked Deer

Table last updated 8/13/2022

† Populations may not be currently present.

Ecology: Ecology of R. horribilis is likely very similar to that of R. marina.

Means of Introduction: Most global introductions of Cane Toads originated from the Guianas in northeastern South America where R. marina is endemic. However, introduced populations in southern Florida also originated from Colombia where R. marina and R. horribilis are both native (King and Krakauer 1966), making this the likely source of the Florida R. horribilis specimens. Cane Toads are adept dispersers, including by hitchhiking with plants, mulch, and produce. The individual caught in a garden center in Jackson, TN in 2020 was likely a hitchhiker either from the native range in south Texas or non-native range in Florida.

Status: Unknown, but likely established in Florida (Abercrombie et al. 2022).

Impact of Introduction: The impacts of this species are currently unknown, as no studies have been done to determine how it has affected ecosystems in the invaded range. However, it is likely that impacts are similar, or possibly misattributed, to the recently split R. marina.

Remarks: Cane toads have long been considered to be one species throughout their range. However, studies have now differentiated these Cane Toads into two species: R. marina found in South America east of the Andes, and R. horribilis from South America west of the Andes through Central America to Texas (Acevedo et al. 2016; Bessa-Silva et al. 2020); native Cane Toads in southern Texas should now be considered R. horribilis (Mesoamerican Cane Toad). Using x-ray radiography three cane toads in Polk County, Florida were confirmed to be R. horribilis while no cane toads in Florida have been confirmed as R. marina (Abercrombie et al. 2022). Further research will be necessary to further elucidate the relative non-native distributions of R. marina and R. horribilis.

References: (click for full references)

Abercrombie, H.E., M. Ferrera, P. Schultz, S. Watkins, E. Eversole, D.B. Estabrooks, and N.Ferrera. 2022. Geographic Distribution: Rhinella Horribilis. Herpetological Review 53(1):74.

Acevedo, A.A., M. Lampo, and R. Cipriani. 2016. The cane or marine toad, Rhinella marina (Anura, Bufonidae): two genetically and morphologically distinct species. Zootaxa 4103(6):574-586.

Ashton, R.E., and P.S. Ashton. 1988. Handbook of Reptiles and Amphibians of Florida. Part Three: The Amphibians. Volume 3. Windward Publishing, Inc Miami, FL.

Bessa-Silva, A., M. Vallinoto, I. Sampaio, O. Flores-Villela, E. N. Smith, and F. Sequeira. 2020. The roles of vicariance and dispersal in the differentiation of two species of the Rhinella marina species complex. Molecular p 145(106723):1-12.

Duellman, W.E. 2005. Cusco Amazónico. The Lives of Amphibians and Reptiles in an Amazonian Rainforest. Comstock Publishing Associates, Cornell University Press.

King, F.W., and T. Krakauer. 1966. The exotic herpetofauna of southeast Florida. Quarterly Journal of the Florida Academy of Sciences 29(2):144-154.

Lee, J.C. 1996. The Amphibians and Reptiles of the Yucatan Peninsula. Cornell University Press.

Lee, J. C. 2001. Evolution of a secondary sexual dimorphism in the toad, Bufo marinus. Copeia 2001(4):928-935.

Lever, C. 2001. The Cane Toad. The History and Ecology of a Successful Colonist. Westbury Academic and Scientific Publishing, Otley, West Yorkshire, England.

McKeown, S. 1996. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians in the Hawaiian Islands. Diamond Head Publishing, Inc., Los Osos, California.

Powell, R.J.T. Collins, and E.D. Hooper, Jr. 1998. A Key to Amphibians & Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence.

Powell, R., R. Conant, and J.T. Collins. 2016. Peterson field guide to reptiles and amphibians of eastern and central North America. 4th edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, New York, NY.

Savage, J.M. 2002. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Costa Rica. A Herpetofauna between Two Continents, between Two Seas. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.

Author: Freedman, J.A.

Revision Date: 6/22/2022

Citation Information:
Freedman, J.A., 2022, Rhinella horribilis (Wiegmann, 1833): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=3808, Revision Date: 6/22/2022, Access Date: 8/13/2022

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2022]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [8/13/2022].

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