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For most frogs in Florida, the mating season typically starts in May, however, it can start as early as March. The frog mating season is when most people find their backyards and pools infested with frogs.
Florida is home to various species of frogs and toads, one of them being the poisonous Bufo toad, also known as the cane toad or giant marine toad. The biggest threat of these poisonous toads is to dogs and cats.
What do Bufo Toads look like?
Bufo toads are large and easy to identify. They are poor jumpers, since they are stocky and have short legs. They don’t have teeth or a tail. Their pupils are horizontal. Cane toads have thick, warty, dry skin. There are parotoid glands behind their eyes. These are wart-like structures that secrete poison. The females are larger than the males, and they can be anywhere from 10 to 15 centimeters across in measurement.
Symptoms of exposure to Bufo toad poisoning
It is not unusual for dogs and cats to lick, mouth, or bite into Bufo toads. These activities cause the toad to secrete poisons from the glands on their head. Animals exposed to Bufo toad poisoning might exhibit any of the following symptoms:
Pawing at their mouth
Very red gums
If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to Bufo toad poison, rinse its mouth and paws with water. Be careful because the pet could aspirate the water with the toxins. Also, avoid being bitten by an exposed animal. Wash your hands after rendering aid, and don’t get the poison in your mouth or eyes. Immediately bring the pet to a veterinarian.
Tips for protecting pets from Bufo toads
Taking the following steps can help to protect your pets from exposure to poisonous Bufo toads:
Feed your pets indoors. Bufo toads are especially attracted to dog food and cat food. If you feed pets outdoors, the toads could not only eat the food but can leave traces of poison on the bowls or spray pets trying to defend their food.
Keep your pet’s water indoors, as well. Bufo toads are attracted to water and might choose to bathe in your pet’s water dish, if it’s left outside.
Bufo toads are most active at night and after it rains. During those periods, keep your pets indoors.
Remove bushy plants and other attractants in your yard that can become convenient hiding spots for these large, poisonous toads.
Avoid leaving your dog alone when Bufo toads are in the vicinity. Puppies are especially vulnerable to exposure to the poisonous toads, since they are highly active and playful. Supervise your dog during outdoor play time.
Build a barrier fence against Bufo toads, which includes a high fine mesh barrier that extends nearly 6” under the ground.