Cane Toad Characteristics and Behavior
How do these insidious creatures look and behave? The easy answer is they look like most other toads. In fact, many native species of frogs have been killed when mistaken for cane toads. Wildlife agencies ask that a cane toad sighting be reported and verified before attempting to kill the toad. Cane toads are usually much larger than other toads or frogs, but that is only when they are full grown. The parotid glands on a cane toad are usually more pronounced. The toads can be motley of colors from grey to reddish or olive brown to yellow. And the toads usually change color somewhat during the mating season. (1)
Cane Toad Mating
Cane toads begin calling for mates after the first summer storms or when water reaches about 25 degrees Celsius. Mating season peaks roughly three months later and ends after six months. The toads calls are a long low trilling. The vocal sac puffs out and the male toad stands his ground. The males will congregate around water waiting for the females and male toads are thus often much more easy to find than females.
Mating occurs when the male mounts the female frog and grips her under the armpits. This is called amplexus. The eggs are then released and fertilized. Male toads will wrestle for the right to a female and may attempt to pull the other male off of the female. Female mate selection is informed by the males territory, hatching areas, and his call.
Females can lay a whopping 30,000 eggs twice a year. Even so only about 0.05% of all eggs of the cane toad will reach maturity. The cane toad takes 18 months to two years to grow to adulthood.(2)
Cane Toad Poison
Humans are not immune to the poison of frogs. The substance that toads secrete is called bufotenin and 5-MeO-DMT. Both of these substances belong to the psychoactive drug category meaning that they can produce hallucinations in their victims. . Under Australian law, the bufotoxin is a class one drug along with heroin and cannabis. Toads can be milked for this substance by rubbing a finger under their chin. Toad licking gained popularity in the 1970s. People also sell frog skins that contain the poison. California has a law that bans licking toads or selling the substance. Sometimes the poison is dried and then smoked. This is extremely dangerous to people and not likely to provide much of the getting high effects that people are seeking. Toads only produce a small amount of bufotoxin and therefore the effects of hallucinations are mild and short lived. Whereas the other poisons the toad produces are substantial, serious poisoning can result. People have been known to die from overdosing on the venom. It stops the heart effectively killing predators and prey alike. Good thing that there are no toads big enough to swallow a human.
Fun Frog Fact:
A: No, cane toads mostly live in places that are populated with people such as farms, cleared lands, and residential neighborhoods.