Marine (Cane) Toad
Rhinella marina, or Bufo marinus
Natural History Information
Range and Habitat
- The native range of the marine toad (also known as the cane toad) is from the Rio Grande valley of Texas south to the Central Amazon and southeastern Peru. They have also been introduced into other areas, such as the Caribbean Islands, south Florida, the Hawaiian Islands, and Australia, where it has become a pest species. Marine toads have been called one of the 100 worst invasive species worldwide by the Invasive Species Specialist Group.
- Before its dispersal by humans, marine toads were found primarily in subtropical forests near fresh water. Now they can be found in many places, such as man-made ponds, gardens, drain pipes, debris, under cement piles, and beneath houses. They will usually stay on dry land, and will reproduce in any shallow water nearby. Both tadpoles and adults are able to tolerate very high salinity.
- Marine toads are brown with a creamy colored underside, and have large parotid glands behind their eyes. Their skin is covered with warts, which are collections of poison glands. Adults average 6 inches in length, but they can grow to be up to 9 inches long.
- This species can live up to 40 years in captivity. Lifespan in the wild is generally much shorter.
- Life Cycle Natural History Relevant Information
- Temperature, Humidity, Light Cycles
- Social Housing/Colony Management
- Other General Housing Requirements or Management information
- Life Cycle Relevant Information
- In the wild, marine toads will eat almost anything, although they are most likely to consume things that are active at ground level during the night. Usually, that means they dine on insects, small mammals, and fish.
- Diet under human care
- In captivity, they are fed pinky mice.
- Behavioral Relevant Information
- Environmental Enrichment
- Behavioral Enrichment
- Other Enrichment Resources
- Behaviors Trained
- Reinforcers used & schedule of reinforcement
- Threats and Conservation Status
- Great in invasive species programs when you precede them or present them with native species (like Southern toad for FL) then bring out these for a big ‘wow’ factor. You could house them next to native species for this effect as well.
- Marine toads have been introduced into many places worldwide in the hopes that they would help control certain insect populations. However, due to their long life spans and high fecundity, these toads became invasive once they established themselves. They are a particular menace in Australia, where over 200 million toads are estimated to live.
- Interesting Natural History Information
- Mating season occurs after the dry season. Eggs are laid from late spring to summer in temporary pools and roadside ditches. Females lay long strings of up to 30,000 eggs, which will hatch in about three days. Tadpoles are jet black above and silvery white with black spots below. They metamorphose in 45 to 50 days.
- Marine toads are nocturnal and will only emerge from their daytime hiding spots to feed. They do secrete a poison from glands on the skin, but their poison does not protect them from all predators; most snakes and birds seem to be unaffected. Their poison is able to make humans very sick and can kill a dog.
- Did you know…
- Their mating call is produced by pumping air backwards and forwards over their vocal cords.
- Toads have a marked homing instinct that is not fully understood. Even when they aren’t breeding, toads display a high degree of constancy in returning to a favorite retreat every day.
- When a toad swallows, the eyes close and sink into the roof of the mouth. This action propels food into the gullet.
- Marine toads are also called cane toads or giant neotropical toads.
- If kept well in captivity, a marine toad could learn to recognize its keeper.
Handling & Presentation Tips
Public Contact and Interaction Guidelines
Look for specialty/exotic rescues such as:
- The Bunny Hutch, an exotic animal rescue run by zoo keepers.
- Check out sample animal policies, handling sheets, and fact sheets on our Example Policies & Guidelines page
- View past issues of Program Animal SAG Newsletters
Contributors and Citations
- The Philadelphia Zoo
Comments from the Rating System
- Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park: Untouchable, but good messaging because of invasive species
- Buffalo Zoo: “Wow” factor for his size. Takes some additional handling training, but settles down nicely if the handler is calm and capable.
- Henry Vilas Zoo: Use to teach amphibian attributes, global amphibian crisis, and INVASIVE SPECIES
- Maryland Zoo in Baltimore: Impaction can be an issue.
- Roger Williams Park Zoo: Stressed by programming. We find they are easier to handle as they get older. We do not show them in the jewel cases as they jump into the sides. Tough to handle on program: “jumpy.” Handlers must wear aprons to avoid getting urinated on.
- Seneca Park Zoo: Need to have the correct housing requirements, and pack for programs appropriately. Needs lots of space.