Critter talk: Bufo toads can be deadly but should we kill them?

If treated dogs who ingest Bufo toad toxin will survive

If you’ve never seen one before you’ve really not missed much. Bufo toads are big, short, squat toads with a lumpy-bumpy exterior — much like you’d expect if your worldview relied on fairy tale imagery. But still … is it OK to kill them?

Lots of people think so. And I’ll confess: I’m one of them. Here’s why:

1. Bufo toads are poisonous to dogs who are curious or prey-driven enough to chase, catch and lick or bite them. The toxin they secrete and shield themselves with subsequently cause severe oral inflammation, seizures and cardiac arrhythmias. Though not often deadly once treated, some dogs do die — my mother’s Parson’s terrier, included (RIP, Floreana).

2. Bufo toads are an introduced species that don’t belong in South Florida. They’re from Australia and they have no business shouldering out the native species that once called SoFla home. It’s best they not be here at all.

But are those good enough reasons to end an innocent animal’s life? Hmmm…

As a veterinarian who’s practiced in South Florida for more than ten years, and has treated perhaps a hundred or more cases of Bufo toad envenomation, I do believe I’m justified in thinking so. Still, that doesn’t mean I’m willing to allow an animal to suffer.

Here’s a recent Miami Herald article I wrote to help explain how these toads are best dealt with. That is, if you plan to deal with them at all:


Q: Every year, my husband and I argue over the same thing: What to do with the Bufo toads that invade our yard. A couple of years ago you wrote a column on the dangers of these toads to our dogs and how seizures and even death can happen when dogs lick or eat these animals. You mentioned that they were an invasive species to South Florida and that they should be killed with a shovel. But I think that’s inhumane. My husband, however, doesn’t. He’s taken your words to heart. Please tell me you didn’t mean to say these innocent animals should be butchered inhumanely.

A: Oops. What I said is that sometimes the best thing for these animals is a shovel, which occasioned a slew of e-mails from folks like you who’d interpreted that to mean that the toads should be killed by bashing them with a shovel.

The truth is, I was thinking along the lines of removing them with a shovel — —not killing them in this manner, which I consider unacceptably inhumane. In fact, I considered writing a retraction, but abandoned the idea; admittedly, in retrospect, inadvisably.

Because you are right; “butchering” these animals is not the way we should proceed when faced with a Bufo toad invasion. Not when other means are available to us.

But first, let me back up and explain for the benefit of those who may not be privy to an understanding of Bufo toad poisoning in dogs:

Bufo toads (AKA Bufus marinus) are an invasive, non-native species of Australian amphibians that have enjoyed a proliferative experience in South Florida thanks to our hospitable climate. But they are unwelcome. And it’s not only because they do damage to our delicate ecosystem. The fact that dogs who engage them as prey suffer oral irritation, life-threatening seizures and sometimes heart failure earns them a special place on our list of despicable creatures.

But that doesn’t mean we should kill them with shovels. Gross as it sounds, the most humane method of euthanasia for amphibians has been determined to involve a simple household appliance: the freezer. If you can get past the toad-catching, plastic-bagging, freezer-installing and eventual disposal of these animals (in the garbage, usually) … you’re doing the best thing for the environment and for your dogs.

I know it’s not easy. But it is the best for everyone involved.


OK, so now it’s your turn. Am I wrong? What’s your take?

Dr. Patty Khuly for Fully Vetted



Pic of the day: Bufo marinus by Herman Horsten

bufo toad, bufo marinus, poison toad

All opinions are welcome on MadMikesAmerica so please leave us your thoughts about killing Bufo toads …

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Posted by on August 2, 2011. Filed under Advice,CRITTER TALK. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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4 Responses to Critter talk: Bufo toads can be deadly but should we kill them?

  1. Sagacious Hillbilly Reply

    August 2, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Kill every one you see!!! We have to manage our environment at this point.
    Is slowly freezing them any better than a fast whack with the flat side of a shovel or a stomp with the heal of a boot? Come on folks, get off the granola train.

  2. Christina Maenius Reply

    May 19, 2013 at 1:36 am

    Housecleaning is done to make the home look better and be safer and easier to live in. Without housecleaning lime scale can build up on taps, mold grows in wet areas, bacterial action make the garbage disposal and toilet smell and cobwebs accumulate. Tools used in housecleaning include vacuum cleaners, brooms, mops and sponges, together with cleaning products such as detergents, disinfectants and bleach.”

  3. Shaunda Bohler Reply

    May 19, 2013 at 9:55 am

    There is a trend of networking home appliances together, and combining their controls and key functions. For instance, energy distribution could be managed more evenly so that when a washing machine is on, an oven can go into a delayed start mode, or vice versa. Or, a washing machine and dryer could share information about load characteristics (gentle/normal, light/full), and synchronize their finish times so the wet laundry does not have to wait before being put in the dryer.

  4. Angela Reply

    July 13, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Seriously? Everyone has a right to their opinion, however, these are creatures are breeding out of control. I am a resident of South Florida and I don’t even want to let my dogs out in the yard. They are not humane creatures. Shooting them is an instant death. If you try to catch them to put them in a paper bag, you risk exposure yourself and injury to your eyes, etc. Who is more important here? I believe humans and animals. Stop!

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