Identifying Cane Toads In SWFL

Updated: Sep 3

So you found a toad in your backyard or community and are unsure if it is a friendly native toad or the oh-so dreaded Cane Toad ( Bufo Toads ). Below are a couple pointers to aid in your identification process. After reading everything, if you are still unsure please feel free to reach out with a photo and we will be glad to help!


Cane Toad Estero Naples Bonita Springs
This handsome fella was caught looking for a date in Naples, Florida

Size

By far the easiest way for most people to distinguish an adult Cane Toad from other toads is the size. The Cane Toad is a behemoth when compared to the native toads, with the average adult measuring in between 5-9 inches. For comparison the native Southern Toad, which is the largest of all native types can grow to around half that size, with most adults being 4 inches in length. In a pinch, a credit card can be used as a measuring device. The average credit card is 3.4 inches in length, and by eyeballing the distance from nose tip to butt and comparing it to the credit card you will have a scale to work with. Most toads in SWFL over 4 inches are going to be Cane Toad.



Poison gland location and facial features

This is where things get tricky, but after learning these two telling features, you will become a Cane Toad identification machine. The Cane Toad has large triangular shaped poison glands that angle downward over the shoulder and a smooth "forehead" area, with no crests present. In comparison, the native Southern Toad has oval or kidney-shaped glands that are in a physically higher location on the toad and two distinct crests in the "forehead" region. Please note that these features start to develop when the toads are around 1 inch in length, before then it is very hard to distinguish between the two.


Southern Toad vs Cane Toad comparison
Southern Toad- Their glands are significantly smaller and will sit higher up on the body. There are two distinct crests present between the eyes.

Cane Toad vs Southern Toad Comparison
Cane Toad- Notice that the triangular gland sits lower on the body and the smoothness between the eyes.


Toad Call

Cane Toads have a very distinctive call and are often heard in the evenings, particularly after a heavy rainstorm. Interestingly, while you may hear the calls one night and not another know that the Cane Toad are present year-round. The Cane Toad is quite content to find a well maintained piece of land with permanent access to water and settle in for the long haul.