You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Poisonous toads overrun South Florida neighborhood

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 3/25/2019 Theresa Braine
a hand holding a frog © Jason Nuttle

Thousands of adorable but poisonous Bufo toads, which can kill pets and are dangerous to children, have invaded a suburban Florida neighborhood.

Cane toads, as they are known, range from 6 to 9 inches in length. Their babies are dime-sized, though, and those are the creatures hopping around in droves.

“I just see a massive amount of toads or frogs everywhere, covering every square inch,” said Jennifer Quasha, who lives in an affected area of Palm Beach Gardens, to WPTV. “You can’t even walk through the grass without stepping on one.”

Besides being disconcerting, the invasive amphibians – first introduced to south Florida from their native Central and South America as pest control in sugar cane fields – can harm small animals and children.

“When this non-native species is threatened or handled, it secretes a highly toxic milky substance from its large parotoid glands at the back of its head, behind the ears,” says the Florida Wildlife Extension at the University of Florida. “This secretion can burn your eyes, may irritate your skin, and can kill cats and dogs if they ingest the secretion.”

Luckily there’s an outfit called Toad Busters ready to come to the rescue of residents and their pets.

“With the warmer winter and then we had a rain two to three weeks ago, a torrential rain, that caused them to go into a breeding cycle,” Toad Busters lead technician Mark Holladay told WPTV. “They’re not safe for pets or children. If a pet was to ingest too many of them, even at that small size, it would cause a problem.”

A mild winter has made the breeding season more fruitful, other experts noted.

“Right now, it’s the season for them,” said Amy Kight, the executive director of the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter, to The Palm Beach Post. “In spring and summer, we have more rain, so it’s just more conducive to the breeding of them. Because it stays lighter longer, people are staying outside more. When dusk is coming around, the frogs are starting to emerge for the night. People are still out and doing things with their pets, so there are more encounters with them.”


More from New York Daily News

New York Daily News
New York Daily News
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon