Cane Toad
(Bufo marinus)



Cane Toad

Caribbean Frog

Poison-Dart Frog

Wrinkled Frog

Picture of a cane toad

To hear the mating call of the Cane Toad, click here; recorded by Jean-Marc Hero in Australia; used with permission

Citation for image: James Dowling-Healey (photographer, copyright holder); used with permission.

Physical Description
  • Brown, olive skin with dark brown warts and yellow spots
  • Can reach a maximum length of 235 mm  (~9 inches) but generally ~160 mm (~6 inches)
  • Called cane toads (in Hawaii and Australia) also in Hawai'ian, poloka; also referred to as giant toads, marine toads; more recently  reclassified as Chaunus marinus
  • Secrete a whitish, viscous compound from parotoid glands (on sides of their heads) which can kill a dog; also pets have been poisoned by eating eggs
Feeding Behavior
  • Feed on wide variety of insects, especially arthropods, ants, cockroaches and spiders
  • When food is scarce, eats anything including plants, garbage, feces, other toads, small pets
Why and When Introduced to Hawai'i
  • Natural habitat is southern Texas, Mexico, to Amazon River Basins in South America
  • Introduced into Hawaii about 1932 when 148 were released on Oahu to control sugar cane beetles; now found in all Main Islands  
  • From Hawaii, cane toads were introduced into Australia
Life cycle
  • Breed in brackish water
  • Females lay eggs in long jelly-like strings in excess of 20,000 at a time and then male fertilizes them
  • Tadpoles emerge 48-72 hrs later and undergo metamorphosis 45 days after egg laying
  • New toads are primarily diurnal (but become nocturnal after 3-4 days), require easy access to water but as they grow older, they move further away from water
  • Life span in captivity--15 years
Environmental Impact to Hawai'i
The cane toads were initially introduced to reduce sugar cane beetles and insects but their success seems marginal. Today, the cane toad is generally considered a pest wherever it was introduced either intentionally or accidentally and now belongs to the 100 worse invasive species. In the wild, these toads are opportunistic carnivores that non selectively consume not only invertebrates but other vertebrates (frogs and snakes) and plant matter. They can reproduce any time of the year if it is warm enough and lay
thousands of eggs. In Australia, native amphibians, cats, and several snakes have been adversely affected since these animals have no natural immunity to bufotoxin. Hawai'i has no known native land amphibians with which the giant toad may displace. However, these toads may have contributed to the endangerment of native insects and birds in Hawaii. Because Hawai'i is not their native habitat, the cane toad should be controlled in Hawai'i.