Creatures of the Amazon
The Giant Toad

By Mike Collis

Bufo marinus

These monster amphibians are the biggest toads in the World growing up to nearly 15 inches long and the larger females weighing up to 6 lbs. Their latin name is Bufo marinus but they are also known as the Marine Toad and the Cane Toad. Their real habitat is Central and South America but now it can be found in Florida, Hawaii, the Carribean, the Philippines and Australia. Giant Toads normally eat mostly insects but mice, frogs and small birds are on its menu. In fact its fair to say that anything that fits into its large mouth will be consumed too.

They were introduced into Australia (mainly Queensland) in 1935 in an attempt to control the Cane Beatle. This was a failure because of the lack of natural predators in Australia. The Cane Toad as it is known there prospered and has spread to most parts of North Eastern Australia to the detriment of indigenous species who have been displaced or have lost their food supply.

In itís natural habitat in South America the Giant Toad has 3 main enemies apart from man, they are large birds, snakes and large cats like the Jaguar, Puma and the Ocelots. When attacked the Giant Toad usually stands its ground and depends entirely on a poisonous toxin which is released from the paratoid glands in the large lumps behind its eyes. This poison can kill most predators although some have acquired an immunity to it.

There is no breeding season as such, they breed all year round if left alone. The male attracts a mate by calling out with a sound like a cell phone dialing tone. The spawn and the tadpoles are poisonous which gives the young a good head start. The female can lay up to 20,000 eggs in one go. The tadpoles are silver/white underneath and black above. They grow up to 1 inch in length and form large groups which constantly move around the pond or hatching area.

Mainly nocturnal the Giant Toad is brown or creamy coloured. It is believed they can live up to 40 years in captivity but in the wild their life span is considerably less.
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