Following heavy rains, toxic, oversize toads are wreaking havoc on the streets of southern Florida the Miami Herald reported on Wednesday.
Is this just the beginning?
The beige and brown cane toads, otherwise known as ‘giant toads’, are now appearing in South Florida following heavy rains that provided them with plenty of water to breed in. If the summer ends up being wetter than usual, as forecasts are predicting, their tadpoles will enjoy an increased chance of survival. This can create a population boom for the biggest toad in Florida.
“As long as there is water for them to breed in, the cane toads will thrive,” William Kern, a professor at the University of Florida (UF) whose field of expertise is urban pest management told the Herald. “They will be out above the surface, foraging and breeding. People are probably seeing more of them now.”
How dangerous are they?
In general, cane toads are harmless to humans but they can be highly dangerous for pets – especially dogs and cats. That’s because the amphibians, which can grow up to 9 inches, feature glands behind their eyes that contain a toxin that can kill dogs, Kern said. And if a dog bites or licks the toad, it can suffer from convulsions, loss of coordination or cardiac arrest.
But aside from killing household pets, cane toads are known to cause irreparable damage to the environment. They have no predators putting them at the top of the food chain. On the other hand, they do eat virtually anything including small lizards, snakes, bugs, and even other native frogs who they often compete with for food and breeding grounds.
No need to hide in nature
Additionally, this invasive species can thrive in Florida’s urban neighborhoods which are rife with hundreds of man-made lakes, canals, and lots of bugs year-round.
“We have dozens out on the street at night. They are not even scared of people anymore, it’s like there are gangs of them out this year,” said Elizabeth Bonilla, who’s home is close to a canal in Homestead, Florida told the Herald.
The amphibians were originally introduced to Southern Florida by farmers in the 1930s to kill pests such as beetles that were decimating their sugar cane crops. But the project backfired once they discovered that the toads can’t jump very high. This meant that they were unable to eat the beetles that lived in the upper stalks of the plants.
Frogs were one of the ten plagues in Egypt preceding the redemption of the Jewish people.
And Hashem said to Moshe, “Say to Aharon: Hold out your arm with the rod over the rivers, the canals, and the ponds, and bring up the frogs on the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 8:1)