Thursday, July 14, 2011

Invasive Species: Cane Toad

Cane toad (Rhinella marina)

History of cane toad range in Australia
I'm sure most of you are already familiar with this one. It is wreaking havoc across Australia and has also been introduced to numerous other parts of the world. They were initially introduced to these areas in an attempt to control pests that were damaging important cash crops such as sugarcane. Needless to say, things didn't exactly go as planned. They are native to Mexico (extending into parts of Texas) and Central and South America.

Cane toads eat practically anything they can get their mouth around and excrete a toxin from the gland behind their eyes (parotoid gland) that causes illness or even death in those that touch it. Because of this, these toads pose a serious danger to all native wildlife as well as humans and domestic animals. Human deaths are known to happen after ingesting the toads or their eggs. There is still research being done into the best way to reduce the population numbers, with hopes for a successful biological control.

Cane toads are listed on the 100 World's Worst Invasives as #16.

Images are from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons licenses: one, two


  1. You might enjoy the out-of-box thinking with cane toads:

  2. There are two Cane Toad films by Mark Lewis that you must watch.

    The first one is on youtube in its entirety.

  3. Nice article, thank you. It is fascinating how genes change when an animal becomes invasive. There is a very different sort of selection going on.

    I saw part of that video during a lecture on invasive species. My favorite part is where the man talks almost gleefully about running them over with his car. Seems odd, but when an animal is devastating your home...