Cane Toad / Marine Toad Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name: Cane Toad / Marin Toad
Scientific Name: Rhinella marina (old: Bufo marinus)
Life Span: 12 to 20 years (in captivity)
Size: From 4 to 9 inches
Habitat: Grasslands, Forests
Country of Origin: South America, and Central America through Mexico

Physical Description

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Cane toads are known for the wide mouth, bony head structure, and dry spotted warty skin. They are large heavily-built amphibians that have a bony head structure with bony ridges above their eyes which meet above their nose. Generally, their ventral surface is cream-colored, and their pupils are horizontal with golden irises. A fully grown cane toad has a noticeable paratoid glands which appear as swellings their shoulder behind the eardrum. With the help of their leathery webbing hind feet, they can move in short rapid hobs. Meanwhile, their front feet, which is unwebbed, allow them to sit in an upright position. 

Their colors vary between reddish-brown to olive-brown. Some have a more yellowish and even greyish color. Generally, they have pale abdominal parts which have dark mottling around it. Male can toads can grow up to 4 to 6 inches (10-15cm), and female ones can grow as big as 5 to 10 inches (13-23cm). Females can reach up to 10 inches and can weigh up to 1.4 kilograms. Compared to female toads, males are quite smaller, although they are wartier. 

Although there’s a clear presence noticeable skin bars and blotches, young toads have smooth dark-brownish skin. Their paratoid glands are still not obvious at this time. Meanwhile, the black and shiny tadpoles short thin tail with a plain dark belly. These tadpoles measure 3.5 cm long compared to other types of tadpoles. They often come together in numbers are bottom dwellers. They form in school and can also be found in shallow waters.   

Also known as the marine toad or giant neotropical toad, this terrestrial true toad is a native to South America and mainland Central America, although they can also be seen hopping throughout Northern Australia, Caribbean, and Oceana. A member of the genus Rhinella, cane toads, are formerly named to the genus Bufu and is considered as the world’s largest toad. These amphibians can be a prolific breed, and with just a single clump of spawns, the females can lay thousands of eggs. 

These toads are considered to be a pest to some countries, most especially Australia. It’s also one of the oldest species in the world. The La Venta fauna of the late Miocene of Colombia has found a fossil toad specimen which appears to be as that of a modern cane toad from South America.

If ingested by animals, the tadpoles and the adult cane toads can be extremely toxic. They have poisonous glands and toxic skin that have killed numbers of animals already. Dogs are particularly in danger when it comes to eating these toads. 

Life Span

Cane toads can reach up to 15 to 20 years lifespan, although there have been reports about reaching up to more than 20 years. A single female toad can lay from 7,000 to 40,000 eggs at a time and can lay eggs twice a year. These eggs hatch within 24 to 72 hours. The tadpole stage then begins from 3 to 20 weeks. Factors such as water temperature and food supply matters when it comes to the growth and development of these tadpoles. The ideal water temperature should be around 25 to 30 degrees Celsius. Anything more or less leads to unhealthy development.

A healthy environment is also crucial for the tadpoles to metamorphose or transform into toadlet. Generally, a healthy juvenile toad (toadlet) should have a length of 1 to 1.5 cm. These toads love the tropics, and they have an astounding rapid growth. Typically, they reach sexual maturity within a year, but this depends on the temperature and location. In some parts of the world, such as Australia, they usually mature in 18 months to 2 years. The longest recorded lifespan of a cane toad in the wild is at least 5 years.

Meanwhile, captive Cane Toads can live for more than 15 to 20 years. It’s also worth mentioning that only 0.5 percent of these frogs survive after hatching and become adults and be able to breed.  

The usual predators of cane toad tadpoles are water beetles, snakes, saw-shelled turtles, and dragonfly nymphs. Snakes also feast on young toads and according to a certain study, snakes, particularly Keelbacks, can tolerate low levels of toad toxins. As these tadpoles reach their young or adult stage, they then become pray of a water rat, bush stone-curlew, crocodiles, wolf spiders, frogmouth, giant white-tailed rat, white-faced heron, and freshwater crayfish. There are some predators who only attack and the toad’s tongue. Some mildly eat the poisonous internal organs. 

Tadpoles don’t break the water surface for air, thus, the predators need to dive or get into the water to catch their meal. It’s when these tadpoles become young toads that they emerge from the water. These toadlets typically gather around the moist area within the water body area. They stay in the perimeter for about a week or two, and they eventually disperse. Even for some experts, young cane toads are quite indistinguishable from the native Uperoleiea species since they also have parotid glands. Although the former species have a bright red patch on the groin area. Given that there’s a healthy environment for them to eat and hop around, cane toadlets should be able to reach their adult size within a year. 


Originally from South America, these cane toads were introduced to Hawaii. From Hawaii, it was then introduced to north-eastern Australia to combat a major pest that has plagued the country, which is the sugar cane beetle. What happened after a few years is that instead of solving the problem, the introduction and the prolific reproduction of cane toads in Australia have now become a problem itself. 

Today, cane toads are found all over Queensland, and they are starting to venture into new territories such as the south which is the New South Wales and the west, which is the Northern Territory. It’s said that these toads are capable of moving at a rate of 30 kilometers per year. This expansion has become a major problem in the country because they either eat other species or poison them. With their incredible adaptation skills, they are now able to survive in almost all types of habitat. 

Eating Habits

These cane toads can eat almost anything, as long as they can swallow it. Whether it’s a household scrap, plants, living insects, bees, ants, crickets, marine snails, small snakes, rodents, bugs, beetles, winged termites, reptiles, birds, bats, and other small mammals. On the other hand, the tadpoles eat aquatic plants and algae. Even at their tadpole age, they already have 5 rows of tiny peg-like teeth. Moreover, these tadpoles also filter organic matter from their water environment. And yes, also sometimes eat cane toad eggs. 

Just like any other toads, they identify their prey by movement. Their main weapon in detecting their pray is their vision, although they can also locate their food with the help of their sense of smell. One of the primary reasons as to why these cane toads are considered as pests is because aside from infesting and dominating their habitat, they are also eating the nearby species such as other frogs. They are notorious for wiping out all other species of frogs. And any animal that fits inside their mouth will surely be eaten. Apart from wiping all frogs in the proximity, they can also pose a danger to birds, reptiles, and other vertebrate wildlife. After eating their prey, they then move into other areas. 

What makes these toads very successful is that they can handle almost all prey that can fit inside their mouth. They are also able to adapt to their diet and can even eat dead preys or carrion. Also, they eat vegetables and animal feeds, which is another reason why many farmers don’t want them around. If you’re getting cane toads as a pet, you can feed them with variety of prey items such as locusts, earthworms, waxworms, mealworms, butterflies, cockroaches, crickets, beetles, and even moths. You can also provide them any type of cat or dog food. In addition, they can also eat lean meat, but make sure that you give them as a treat since regular feeding of meat may become their staple food and can lead to obesity. 

When feeding cane toads, it’s recommended to use forceps or tongs. As much as possible, you have to feed them with live food diet. It’s also important that you feed them with foods that are easy to digest and high in protein. According to many cane toad owners, they are best fed with locusts and brown or black crickets. Providing them waxworms, calciworms, and mealworms are also healthy. And to add more protein to their diet, you can give them small “pink” mice at least once a week. 

Sleeping Habits

According to recent a recent study, cane toads begin to adapt to hotter conditions, and they are gradually abandoning their nocturnal habits. These invasive species are changing behavioral patterns and are now able to survive in the desert’s dry condition. The University of Technology of Sydney suggested that these toads are adapting due to their drive of spreading its presence. However, compared to other desert-dwelling frogs, they do not have any physiological mechanism to bury themselves and form a protective cocoon to prevent dryness. 

Cane toads have recently become diurnal instead of being nocturnal. What the researchers did is they attached a fish tag to 20 adult cane toads and then placed data loggers in dams. The collection of data ran for more than six months during the dry season and what they discovered is astonishing. They found out that the toads had to visit these dams every couple of days to survive the desert landscaped. The toads have become more active in the day time.

This change of behavioral pattern means one thing, and it is that during the daytime, they hydrate themselves and allow cooling down of their system. The researchers suggested that this pattern allowed these amphibians to be able to survive even in a harsh environment where ground temperature can reach up to 40 degrees for several hours a day. 

Naturally, when the night falls, these cane toads should start waking up. If you’re taking care of a pet cane toad, you’ll notice that they usually sleep during the heat of the day. They bury themselves underground or tucked under the damp or under the stone or wood that you’ve placed. It’s important to note that sunlight can easily dehydrate the toads. Which is why they love to venture out and look for prey during night time. Once the sun rises, toads in the wild return to their burrows and sleep before the sunrise. Although there are also instances when you see them out in the open during the breeding season. 

For toads, nighttime means hunting time. This is also the best time for them to hunt for insects. Cane toads have camouflaged skin. Also, they are equipped with spectacular eyesight which is designed for low light hunting. Following insects that flock to light sources is an opportunity for them. You might also notice that they produce a cacophony of croaking as the sun starts to sink in.

If you leave near a body of water, then most probably you’ve encountered this croaking. They do this to look for a mating partner. Their nighttime is also their prime time to attract female toads. They croak as loudly as they can since the loader the croak, the more chances they have in climbing onto the backs of willing females. 

Development and Reproduction

As mentioned earlier, one female cane toad can lay more than 35,000 eggs within a year. These mind-blowing production numbers have caused an increasing alarm rate in some countries such as Australia. Their eggs can be easily distinguished from other native frogs since cane toad eggs laid in long chains. Tadpoles are also very distinctive because of their shiny black appearance. Meanwhile, native tadpoles have a lighter skin color and belly. 

Females start laying eggs after 4 to 6 weeks from successful mating. They start to grow bigger and becomes very plump. If you carefully observed a pregnant female cane toad, you’ll easily notice the outlines of the egg and can be seen through the abdominal wall of the females. As the eggs start to grow inside their belly, the female will start to eat less and less. It’s also typical to see female cane toad fasts for a few days before they start laying their eggs. 

When she’s ready to lay eggs, the female toad will then start to look for a safe spot to deposit her egg. This is where she starts digging the corners of her enclosure. For cane toad owners, it’s advisable that you give her a good suitable spot for her to deposit the eggs. Some owners use a deep pan of sandy although any form of a box should suffice.   

Cane toad mating can happen at any time of the year. This depends on several factors, such as the availability of foods and permanent water. Mating starts when you hear the “mating call,” which is a continuous purring trill. Once you start hearing a running-motor-like sound, then most probably they are ready to mate. However, in an event where there is an absence of female toads, what male cane toads do is they undergo a sex change. They become female toads instead of male ones, and they become fertile – although this has not been proven. 

Both the cane toads and native grogs span in the same slow-moving rate. They like to lay their long gelatinous-string-like eggs on still water. The string appearance of these eggs is unique to the species. Compared to other native frogs, the cane toads to produce egg clusters as mounts of foam floating on the water surface. It’s important to note that cane toads in captivity are unlikely to breed and reproduce in a small container such as a terrarium. They require large pools or ponds with a secure greenhouse spot where they can mate and lay their eggs. Some breeders use children’s paddling pools for breeding them. The best season for you to breed them is during the early spring to autumn. With successful breeding, you should be able to see tadpoles hatch within 3 days only. You can feed these tadpoles some chopped frozen lettuce or boiled spinach. 

Breeding Instruction

When breeding them, you must separate the males and females. Wait until a batch of fertile eggs is required. It’s also crucial that you pick a healthy female cane toad. Try to check their conditions first and know whether or not they are already suitable for breeding condition. You can easily identify it by palpating their bodies or bellies, ensuring that there are sufficient eggs. Apart from carefully choosing the female, you also have to carefully choose the males. When it comes to selecting male cane toads, appearance is critical. The ideal male for breeding should have nuptial pads which should have a dark chocolate flavor. You have to note though that when toads undergo shedding, they lose some dark colors.  

Always check the nuptial pad if they have developed or grown maturely. Another important thing that you need to check is the yellow coloring down the side of the male species. This is a very good sign that he is ready to breed. It’s recommended that you only breed these toads not more than twice a year. Breeding them should be pretty simple. What you need to do is you need to find a healthy pair and placed it in a 50 to 60L containers. Ideal dimension is 35 x 57 x 27, and the container should be tilted at least for about 25 degrees to provide a deep-water area. The water area should be at least 10 cm deep. Remember that this is where the female toads lay their eggs. 

You can find owners who place rocks (about 12 to 15 cm in diameter halfway into the water. The rationale for this is it provides the female toads a solid surface where they can sit and extrude their eggs. Be sure as well that the container has a lid which provides shade and a bit of dark area. Cane toads are not fond of mating under an open light. To boost the mating process, you have to set the temperature for about 2 degrees Celsius or 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The humidity should also be controlled and monitored, and it should have a 70% level. 

During the mating period, you mustn’t feed both the male and the female for 24 hours. Fasting induces ovulation, and at the same time, it stimulates amplexus. Fasting benefits both male and female. Some breeders use the synthetic gonadotrophin-releasing hormone to boost the mating pricing process. 

Breeders wait for at least 18 hours before the female releases her egg strings in circles around the rock. Be sure that the eggs are retained and collected after the fertilization process. Don’t forget to also wash the used water to minimize any growth of fungus. After collecting the eggs, you will then place in a freshly filled tadpole tank. Distinguishing healthy eggs from the bad ones are pretty easy. Black and shiny means they are healthy but if it’s gray or dull black, then most likely what you have is a poorly fertilized eggs. Typically, the eggs should hatch within 36 to 48 hours. 

Common Health Problems 

Diseases on Tadpoles 

Overcrowding can bring diseases to the tadpoles, as well as irregular cleaning. The use of detergents and the lack of rinsing to clear out any cleaning agent residues can also cause health problems and can even lead to the tadpoles’ death. 


Another common disease that infects cane toads, especially in the wild, are lungworm. Lungworm infestation includes inflammation of the skin caused by the penetration of the infective larvae. It can also cause hyperkeratosis. As much as possible, you want to make sure that you protect these toads from lungworms or Rhabdias since they can cause inflammation of the liver, lungs, kidneys, heart, muscles, and rectum. 


Adult cane toads are also prone to acquiring infection with a fungus, especially the Mucor amphibious. These organisms are commonly found in the wild, and a clinical indication of fungal infection is a general loss of body weight. The infected toads will become skinny and presents and skeletal-like appearance. There’s an obvious tapering from the head down to their pelvis region. There’s also a presence of skin blushing or reddening on their bellies. A toad that is infected with Mucor amphibious is reluctant to move and appear paralyzed. 


Cane toad owners should also watch out for this infectious disease. It’s a common infection that affects toads, frogs, and many other amphibians all over the world. This infection is caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus, which is the Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. Toads that are infected show signs of severe skin sloughing and splayed limbs. 

Preventing Diseases and Illnesses

If you think that your toad has acquired one of these diseases, then it’s best that you quarantine the container. Also, if you’re introducing a toad from the wild, you have to make sure that you quarantine them for at least 30 days after introducing to the colony. When changing or transferring toads between enclosures, make sure that you’re using latex gloves and that you always apply good hygiene practices. This should avoid cross-contamination. Again, always isolate the new toads and always assess their health and fitness before you make them part of your current toad colony. 


These amphibians are recommended for beginners since they are docile. Cane toads are also relatively easy to care for. Another reason why they are perfect for beginners is that they are very hardy and resilient species. They don’t easily acquire diseases or become ill. And since they are docile, they can be easily tamed by their owners. In fact, with proper care, they should be able to recognize you. Not all amphibians that you can keep as a pet can be handled, but with cane toads, you can easily touch them and even carry them using your hands. However, you have to be very careful, though when it comes to handling them. 


Keep in mind that the skin of an adult cane toad can be toxic. They have this enlarged paratoid glands behind their eyes. Once threatened, these toads secrete a milky-white fluid, which is also known as bufotoxin. These toxins can kill animals and even human beings. There have been records of human deaths due to consumption of cane toads. Dogs are more prone to cane toad poisoning since they like to lick and bite them. If you think that you’re living in an area where there are plenty of cane toads, and your pet shows sign of convulsions, head shaking, lack of coordination, extremely red gums, then it’s very important that you take it to the vet as soon as possible. 

The toxins excreted by the cane toad is classified as a class-1 drug under Australian law, alongside cannabis and heroin. The effects of bufotoxin on humans include mild hallucinations. And aside from excreting these poisonous toxins, they are also capable of inflating their lungs and puffing up and lifting its whole body off the ground. This allows them to appear taller and larger against potential predators. 

In the case of cane toad poisoning, first aid treatment is extremely important. The first thing that you need to do is to wash with a lot of water the mouth, nose, and eyes of the person or animal that has been exposed to toad poison. It’s also crucial to seek medical attention in case the symptoms persist. When handling your toad pets, be sure that you always protect yourself by wearing gloves and eye gears. Before and after touching the toad, be sure that you thoroughly wash your hands.


Physical Environment

Cane toads can grow large of up to 9 or 10 inches, and they can be very active, thus, they need a large terrarium. It’s recommended that you keep an adult toad in a 30 to 40-gallon long container or aquarium. Larger toads or a pair enjoys a healthy and sufficient space in a terrarium that has 50 to 80-gallon capacity. And during warm seasons, they must be housed in a secure outdoor enclosure. Putting them near a small light will supply them a healthy variety of diets such as lured insect. You can also place them near over-ripe foods. 

The enclosure of your toads should be topped by a screen cover. You have to make sure that they are secured by clamps. Also, when choosing a substrate, be sure that they are not wet – damp is fine. Some breeders use fir and sphagnum moss bedding or compressed frog moss. However, the reptile cage carpet will work just fine. Some breeders prefer to install feeding bowls inside the terrarium to avoid cane tones from swallowing the substrate. You can also tong-feed them to ensure that they don’t swallow the substrate. 

Although these toads are bold and do not fear humans, it’s healthy that you make them a hiding spot where they can get out of sight. This significantly reduces their stress levels and can grow healthy. Providing them a cave is also essential, especially if you’re taking care of a cluster. This can reduce fungal infections on the skin. You should also not forget to place a bow of de-chlorinated water since these toads love to ask. Remember that they are poor swimmers, and so make sure that the water is not too deep. Placing strong plants and smooth logs also provide a healthy environment for your toads. 


 It’s recommended that you use a fertilizer-free soil as a substrate for your cane toad terrarium. You can also use cocoa husk or eco-earth. Placing sand and live moss is also recommended. Some breeders also use paper towels as a substrate since they are cheap, however, they are less attractive. 


Unlike other amphibians or reptiles, cane toad does not require UVB radiation. A simple regular fluorescent bulb is enough. Although if you’re placing a plant inside the terrarium or tank, then you have to have a low UVB out the light. Keep in mind that high light levels can damage their eyes, and so make sure to keep the light low. 


When it comes to heat or temperature, your cane toad terrarium should be maintained at 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Although they can tolerate warmer conditions. But just to be safe and ensure that they experience less stress, it’s recommended that you follow the best-suited temp. 


Cane toads are also prone to desiccation, therefore, you have to spray the terrarium each morning and make sure that you always fill their water bowl. Toads love to defecate in the water bow and so to avoid any diseases, make sure that you clean and change them frequently. Failing to clean the bowl leads to cane toads absorbing toxins through their skin, including ammonia. 


Your toads need fresh water every day. You can either use de-chlorinated water or bottled spring water. Using tap water is fine but make sure that it has been treated with a de-chlorinated solution. The depth of water should not be higher than the height of your toads’ mouth when at rest. The best setup should be a 50/50 split, which is 50% water area and 50% burrowing space. To help clean the water, you can always add a filter. And aside from providing them with clean water, you should also provide a ramp between the dry and water area to help your toad when leaving the water.

How to Care for Cane Toads


It’s very important that you always clean the terrarium every day. Get rid of any defecation as much as possible. Also, you have to ensure that you place clean water daily. Your terrarium should also be completely clean at least twice or four times a week. When getting rid of the toad, all decors, plants, and substrate should be removed and refreshed. During the general cleaning, be sure that you place them to a clean temporary tank. 


When handling your toads, be sure that you don’t do it very often. Handle them in short periods. Prolonged handling can bring stress to your cane toads. Also, don’t forget to wash your hands before and after handling the tone. Take note that they ooze out toxic chemicals like the white Bufotoxin. In addition to proper handling, make sure that your hands or gloves are not oily. Just like any other amphibians, cane toads have very delicate and absorbent skin. Oils and salts can be very harmful to their skin. 

Availability – Where to Get One?

Buying Cane Toads is easy, and you can easily get them online. You can also catch them in the wild but make sure that you be cautious since these frogs can be pretty poisonous. Also, if you’re buying online, you have to make sure that you check the reputation of the store first. Check the quality of their cane toads and find out first whether or not they are healthy.

FAQ Section

How Much Do Cane Toads Cost?

Medium cane toads can cost $10 to $14. Meanwhile, large ones can cost $14 to $20, depending on where you’re going to buy them. 

Do cane toads make good pets?

Cane toads can be fun and incredible pets. They are recommended for people who are first-timers in the amphibian hobby. They are great for beginners since they are docile, resilient, and relatively easy to care for. They can also be easily tamed and can recognize their owner or keeper. 

Do cane toads like to be pet?

They are dry to touch, but they can be briefly be petted through gentle strokes. Cane toads enjoy small doses for stroking and although if it beings to make some noises while you’re petting him or her, it means that you need to put it down and that he or she is no longer enjoying your petting. Be sure as well to wash your hands after petting or touching your toad. 

Do cane toads show affection?

Just like other living things in this world, such as humans and animals, toads have different dispositions. They are not the same as a cat or a dog, however, some toads can indeed show affection to their keepers. 

How do you tame a cane toad?

Taming a cane toad is pretty simple, and all you have to do is feed them daily. Also, be sure that he or she sees you around. 

Are cane toads intelligent?

Cane toads can be pretty intelligent. They are extremely smart, and their hunting skills prove it. What they lack though are personalities, which most frogs have.

How often do cane toads need to eat?

In the wild, they eat almost everything that they see, including worms, slugs, insects, snails, spiders, invertebrates, and even plants. When keeping a cane toad, make sure that you feed them at 3 to 6 food items every day. 

Do cane toads sleep?

There has been an extremely little research and study about the sleep patterns of cane those. They are known to close their ideas, but it does not confirm whether they have a true sleeping period. 

Why do cane toads come out at night?

They are nocturnal species, meaning they sleep during the day and stay active and go hunting during night time. 

Do they come out during the day?

They are most active during night time and find shelter under a leaf or grass, however, there have been reports about cane toads moving during the day. 

Do cane toads carry disease?

Like any other reptiles and amphibians, cane toads frequently carry bacteria and germs. They usually carry Salmonella, which can cause serious illness in people. This is why you always have to keep the terrarium clean and wash your hands before and after handling them. 

Do Cane toads have teeth?

Frogs have minor upper teeth, but toads don’t have one. What toads do is they swallow their food whole. You won’t see any toad chewing their food. 

Can a cane toad jump?

Cane toads can jump but not very high. You can use fences or dense vegetation to stop them from jumping and climbing. Their jump only reaches about 50 centimeters high. 

Can a cane toad climb walls?

They don’t climb walls, windows, and trees. 

Can cane toad swim? 

Yes, they can, but they are bad swimmers. And so you have to make sure that you only provide them shallow water bowls. 

Can a cane toad kill a human?

Yes, it’s possible that cane toad poisoning can kill a human. 

Are they poisonous to touch?

Cane toads secrete poison through their parotoid glands. This poison is usually released once they feel threatened. Once ingested, the poison can lead to convulsions, paralysis, excessive salivation, and rapid heartbeat. 

Will I get warts after touching a toad?

No, there are no amphibians living today that can give you warts. It’s a myth. 

Can you eat cane toads?

Cane toads have toxic glands all over their eyes, eggs, ovaries, and shoulders. Although some people eat their fleshy hind legs without getting poisoned – provided that it was prepared properly. It’s recommended that you don’t eat them. 

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