Beware the bufo! That’s the word from pet experts in the south, especially in the spring. They’re talking about the cane, or bufo toad. And it’s mostly pets, not people, that can be in danger. The frog used to be imported in order to kill plant-eating pests. That was an epic fail! Instead, it kills pets—and leaves the bugs alone! When these frogs feel threatened, they secrete a milky, toxic fluid from their skin. Vet experts say that just a little of this fluid can cause life-threatening heart problems in pets. This venom is so poisonous that it has killed both dogs and cats that simply play with them. But the poison could be dangerous to humans, too: some people have died from eating them—or even from just eating their eggs.
Bufo toads are large fellows: adults can get up to 9 inches tall, so only one could sit in your hand at a time—if you dared. Their head is a bit triangular in shape, and their legs are relatively short. Most common colors are olive brown, and yellowish or reddish brown. They like moist areas with a humidity of 70% and higher. They’re a very serious issue in Australia, but they’ve made their way to Florida, Texas, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The good news about the bufo toad is, only 5 in 10 ever make it to adulthood. The bad news: in the right place, they can live 10 to 40 years!
If you’re considering a toad or frog as a pet, beware of bufo toads. Make sure you get only frogs that are bred locally—not captured in the wild. Many types of frogs are at risk because of pet dealers who capture wild ones. The bufo, by the way, is so toxic, it’s not at risk of extinction. And if you buy a frog locally, ask the seller to test to make sure they’re disease-free.
Watch for a future blog post about how to care for a pet toad. You might be surprised at how much work they are!