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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 marina
Rhinella marina
(Cane Toad)
Amphibians-Frogs
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Rhinella marina (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common name: Cane Toad

Synonyms and Other Names: Bufo marinus (former scientific name), Chauna marina (former scientific name), Marine Toad, Giant Toad, Bufo Toad, Sapo Grande (Spanish), Poloka (Hawaiian).

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Rhinella marina 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).  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 are large and triangular paratoid glands. Cane Toads also have ridges or crests on top of the head between the eyes.

The call is a low-pitched, staccato trill that is slow and often likened to the sound of a distant tractor and is very similar to that of a screech owl (Powell et al. 2016; Lever 2001; Savage 2002). Recordings of the calls of R. marina are available on several CDs (Library of Natural Sounds 1996; Bogert 1998).

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 (Conant and Collins, 1998; Lever, 2001)

Native Range: Cane toads are indigenous to much of South America north through Central America, and Mexico northward to extreme southern Texas (Powell et al. 2016).

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

Nonindigenous Occurrences: The first occurrence record in Florida was of 200 R. marina that were intentionally introduced to Canal Point and Belle Glade, Palm Beach County, prior to 1936 (Lobdell 1936, 1937). Several introductions of R. marina to Louisiana have been made, many prior to 1935, one of which could have been on the Grand Terre Islands (Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes) (Easteal 1981; Lever 2001). Cane Toads have been observed in a home improvement store in Hattiesburg, Lamar Co. Mississippi where they are apparently translocated via nursery shipments from Florida (Holbrook 2015). Rhinella marina were first introduced to Oahu, Hawaii in 1932 (Lever 2001). Descendants of this original introduction were subsequently intentionally spread throughout the Hawaiian Islands (Lever 2001, 2003). Rhinella marina have also been reported from Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam (including Cocos Island) and Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and Republic of Palau (Lever 2001, 2003).

Cane toads have been introduced throughout much of the Caribbean including Antigua, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Grenada and Carriacou Island, Guadeloupe, Grand Cayman Island, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica (including Cabarita Island), Marie Galante, Martinique, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Tortola, and Isla de Guanaja (Honduras) (Lever 2001, 2003), as well as Aruba (AmphibiaWeb, 2019). In the Pacific, R. marina have been introduced to Australia, Japan, Taiwan, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Cook Islands, Micronesia, Fiji Islands, Kiribati, Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Solomon Islands, Republic of Palau and Tuvalu (Lever 2001, 2003). Other worldwide introductions include Bermuda, Egypt, Mauritius, Thailand, Korea, and Diego Garcia of the Chagos Archipelago (Lever 2001, 2003).

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 marina are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
FL1936202128Big Cypress Swamp; Caloosahatchee; Cape Canaveral; Charlotte Harbor; Crystal-Pithlachascotee; Everglades; Florida Bay-Florida Keys; Florida Southeast Coast; Hillsborough; Kissimmee; Lake Okeechobee; Lower St. Johns; Manatee; Northern Okeechobee Inflow; Oklawaha; Peace; Peace-Tampa Bay; Santa Fe; Sarasota Bay; Southern Florida; St. Andrew-St. Joseph Bays; St. Marys; Tampa Bay; Tampa Bay; Upper St. Johns; Vero Beach; Western Okeechobee Inflow; Withlacoochee
GU193720181Guam
HI193220197Hawaii; Hawaii; Kauai; Lanai; Maui; Molokai; Oahu
LA193519351East Central Louisiana Coastal
MA199119911Nashua
MS201420141Upper Leaf
PR195120076Cibuco-Guajataca; Culebrinas-Guanajibo; Eastern Puerto Rico; Puerto Rican Islands; Puerto Rico; Southern Puerto Rico
VI198220182St. Croix; St. John-St. Thomas

Table last updated 10/16/2021

† Populations may not be currently present.


Ecology: In the wild, these large toads are nonselective, opportunistic carnivores that consume a wide variety of invertebrates, vertebrates (including other frogs and smaller R. marina), and carrion, occasionally supplementing their diet with plant matter (Meshaka et al. 2004; Hagman and Shine 2008). In urban and suburban environments, R. marina living near human habitations will eat dog and cat food left outdoors for resident pets, along with a variety of household garbage (Savage 2002; Meshaka et al. 2004). While vision is the principle means of detecting prey, R. marina can use smell to detect immobile food items (Lever 2001, 2003; Meshaka et al. 2004).

Rhinella marina reproduces at almost any time of the year unless the temperature is too cold, laying 5,000 to 32,000 eggs (Krakauer 1968), encased in gelatinous strings, in any temporary or permanent body of water, including brackish waters (Zug and Zug 1979; Lever 2001).  In Florida, these toads will opportunistically utilize new breeding sites created by hurricanes, often in urban environments (Meshaka 1993, 2001; Meshaka et al. 2004).

Their high tolerance to saline waters (Lever 2001) may have given rise to their specific scientific name Rhinella marina and common name of marine toad (Lever 2001).

Means of Introduction: Both in the U.S. and worldwide, R. marina was introduced in an attempt to control insect agricultural pests, primarily in cane fields (hence the common name of Cane Toad; Lewis 1989; Meshaka et al. 2004). In Florida, intentional and accidental releases from animal importers have also occurred (King and Krakauer 1966). Rhinella marina collected from Bay County in the Florida Panhandle escaped from a local zoo (Himes 2007). Some nonindigenous cane toads released in Papua New Guinea and possibly elsewhere were from animals used in laboratories for human pregnancy testing (Zug et al. 1975; Lever 2001, 2003). Range expansion in Australia has been facilitated through dispersal by stowing away in shipments of landscaping material, mulch, and produce (White & Shine 2009). 

Status: Cane toads are established in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam (including Cocos Island) and Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and Republic of Palau (Lever 2001, 2003).

Most worldwide introductions have produced successfully established populations (Easteal 1981, 1986; Brown et al. 2007) with the notable exceptions of Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, Egypt, Mauritius, Cuba, Dominica, Carabita Island of Jamaica, Cook Islands, and the Marshall Islands (Schwartz and Thomas 1975; Schwartz and Henderson 1991; Lever 2003). The most successfully established populations of nonindigenous R. marina are best described as Pan-Pacific and Pan-Caribbean.

Impact of Introduction:
Summary of species impacts derived from literature review. Click on an icon to find out more...

EcologicalHuman Health


Ecological—
Because there are no native Bufonid toads in Australia it is thought that many endemic species are therefore more susceptible to Cane Toad toxins (Shine 2010). Cane Toads have been implicated in severe population impacts to Australian wildlife, such as Crocodylus johnstoni (Freshwater Crocodile, Letnic et al. 2008), Dasyurus hallucatus (Northern Quoll, Woinarski et al. 2010), and numerous species of monitor (Varanus spp., Ujvari and Madsen 2009; Doody 2013) and other lizards and snakes (Jolly et al. 2015; Doody 2013). By reducing populations of these predators, other species such as some turtles have been released from predation and competition pressure and have subsequently experienced increased populations (Doody et al., 2006). Other Australian predators actively avoid consuming Cane Toads, their eggs, and tadpoles and may therefore lose out on feeding opportunities (Beckmann et al. 2011). Potential fish predators of Cane Toad eggs and tadpoles rapidly learned aversion to eating them but may suffer morality if they do eat them (Somaweera et al. 2011; Crossland 2001). Adding Cane Toad corpses to ponds proved fatal to native Australian tadpoles, fishes, and leeches (Crossland et al. 2011). Boiga irregularis (Brown Tree Snake), native to Australia but a highly invasive species in Guam, died in their native range after eating Cane Toads (Covacevich and Archer 1975), but in general avoided eating Cane Toads (Brown et al. 2011). Moreover, in Australia Cane Toads have been observed eating juvenile B. irregularis, showing intraguild predation between these two invasive species (Caudell 2000).

Despite industry concerns that domestic chickens (Gallus gallus) are susceptible to Cane Toad toxins, this species appears to be immune to Bufotoxins (Beckmann & Shine 2010). Cathartes aura (Turkey Vultures) were observed to consume a Cane Toad carcass in Louisiana with no apparent negative effects (Platt & Rainwater 2009). Didelphis marsupialis (Common Opposum) have been observed to kill and eat sympatric Cane Toads in Costa Rica and Panama; although in one case the opossum experienced negative effects (foaming at the mouth, itching) it nevertheless persisting in consuming and caching the carcass (Garnett & Boyer 1993; Laurance and Laurance, 2007). An Apalone ferox (Florida Softshell Turtle), was observed eating a Cane Toad with no ill effects (Flaherty and Friers, 2013). A juvenile C. acutus (American Crocodile) in Panama was observed eating a Cane Toad with no apparent side effects (Beaty and Beaty 2012).

Cane Toad eggs are toxic, and while Cane toad larvae (tadpoles) can be cannibalistic (Crossland et al. 2011), tadpoles of native Australian species can die from exposure to Cane Toad eggs (Crossland et al. 2008). Paradoxically, competitive release through conspecifics eating cane Toad eggs resulted in fewer, but larger, surviving native tadpoles and metamorphs (Crossland et al. 2009). There is a high degree of dietary overlap between Cane Toads and native Southern Toads (Anaxyrus terrestris) in Florida, suggesting trophic competition between these species (Meshaka and Powell 2010) and in some areas of Florida, R. marina may displace this native Bufonid (Krakauer 1968; Wilson and Porras 1983). Cane Toad eggs can prove fatal to some North American amphibian tadpoles: Scaphiopus holbrooki (Eastern Spadefoot Toad, Lithobates sphenocephalus (Southern Leopard Frog), Hyla cinerea (Green Tree Frog), Anaxyrus terrestris (Southern Toad), and the invasive Osteopilus septentrionalis (Cuban Tree Frog) experienced 20-100% mortality (Punzo and Lindstrom 2001). Cane toad tadpoles in Florida, in combination with the presence of the nonindigenous Cuban Treefrog can negatively impact native tadpole species (Smith 2005).

The nonindigenous tick, Amblyomma rotundatum, was introduced to Florida (Oliver et al. 1993) and Hawaii (Kelehear et al. 2017) through parasitized R. marina, and the Common Dog Hookworm, Aclyostoma caninum, was found in the feces of cane toads from Tampa (Meshaka et al. 2004). Amblyomma rotundatum is a generalist tick feeds on both reptiles and amphibians and can have deleterious effects on native reptiles and amphibians; Hanson et al. (2007) identified a Southern Black Racer (Coluber contrictor priapus) that was paralyzed from the bite of A. rotundatum, though removal of the tick led to a full recovery. This tick is also associated with lesions and decreased body condition in infected Cane Toads and is a vector for Hemovilia stellate (a blood parasite) and for Rickettsia bellii (some Rickettsia species have high potential for human and wildlife illness; Kelehear 2017). Cane Toads have been implicated in the infection of endemic Australian frogs by a gallbladder parasite, Myxidium immersum (Hartigan et al. 2010). Cane toads can also spread the Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis fungus, which is devastating global amphibian populations (Lettoof et al. 2013).

Human Health--
The large paratoid glands of Cane Toads contain a milky poison (bufotoxins), and humans can become sick or even die from consuming cane toads or their eggs (Lever 2003). Cane Toad toxicity scales with body size – larger toads are consequently much more toxic than small toads. Larger predators (large lizards, snakes, crocodiles, and mammals that tear apart prey) are therefore at greater risk of poisoning (Shine 2010). The complex toxic secretion from these glands can be squirted into the eyes when toads are handled roughly, causing intense pain and a potential medical emergency (Blair 1947; Lever 2001). Domestic dogs and cats are also susceptible to the toxin expressed by Cane Toads (Lewis 1989). Consumption of Cane Toad toxin can cause symptoms including increased salivation, seizures, tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmia, altered gait, and vomiting in dogs (Eubig 2001; Reeves 2004). With veterinary intervention outcomes were good, with 96% survival (Reeves 2004). Cane Toads are vectors of Salmonella, some serovars (or varieties) of which are pathogenetic to humans and wildlife (Drake et al. 2013).
 

Remarks: Several authorities have provided morphological and taxonomic reviews or summaries of R. marina (e.g., Collins and Taggart 2002; Haas 2003; Pauly et al. 2004). Frost et al. (2006) transferred all New World bufonids out of the genus Bufo, consequently placing “Bufomarinus into the genus Chaunus. Systematic research by Pramuk (2006) suggested an additional split within this South American group. More recently, Chaparro et al. (2007) transferred this and some other South American bufonid species into the genus Rhinella (Frost et al. 2008). The taxonomy of this group remains dynamic. Various studies and summaries of the natural history of R. marina have been published (e.g., Schwartz and Henderson 1991; Lever 2001; Laurance and Laurance 2007). Summaries of the complex history of introductions of cane toads worldwide are provided by Easteal (1981) and Lever (2001, 2003).

The clearing of forests for agriculture and roadways in Amazonian South America creates new habit that is quickly invaded by R. marina (Duellman 1999). In Australia, cane toads can disperse rapidly by using sparsely vegetated roadside clearings as corridors (Brown et al. 2006). In arid regions of Hawaii, cane toads are mostly found around golf courses, residential areas, resorts, and other irrigated habitats (Ward-Fear et al. 2016). Sensitivity to cold weather and their restriction to disturbed anthropogenic habitats may eventually halt the slow, northward spread of R. marina in Florida (Krakauer 1968).

References: (click for full references)

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Author: Freedman, J.A. and Somma, L.A.

Revision Date: 9/30/2021

Citation Information:
Freedman, J.A. and Somma, L.A., 2021, Rhinella marina (Linnaeus, 1758): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=48, Revision Date: 9/30/2021, Access Date: 10/16/2021

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.

Disclaimer:

The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2021]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [10/16/2021].

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