The Giant Toad and the Cane Toad of Costa Rica
The giant toad or sometimes referred to as the Cane Toad can be found in lowland forest, and was originally introduced to many plantations as a pestilence control.
The Cane Toad can be found from the southern reaches of the Amazon rainforest, Peru and extending north through Central America into south Texas and Florida. It is also found in areas of Asia and Oceania including Australia and some parts of Southeast Asia.
Mating & Reproduction
Female Cane Toads typically lay around 8,000 to 25,000 eggs in strings of jelly into water. Each string of eggs can stretch up to as long as 66 feet (20 meters), and tadpoles are hatched usually within two days of the time that they are laid. However, some eggs can take up to 14 days to develop into tadpoles. The tadpoles and eggs are coated in a toxin known as bufotoxin, and can be particularly dangerous to a number of animals if ingested. This protects the toad as it grows into adulthood.
Before the toad reaches sexual maturity, it sheds the layer of protective bufotoxin which was imparted from its mother in the early stages of its development. At this point in its lifecycle, the Cane Toad is especially vulnerable to attacks from predators, and it is of upmost importance for Cane Toads to quickly progress through adolescence into sexual maturity. Once sexually mature, Giant Toads naturally produce bufotoxin thus making them less desirable to predators.
Cane Toads are hardy enough to survive in many different environments. This is due, in large part, to their diet. Cane Toads will eat almost anything they can, and some of the food that a Cane Toad eats is insects, small rodents like mice and shrews, lizards, other amphibians like smaller frogs and vegetation. Domesticated Giant Toads will eat household refuse and dog food.
The Cane Toad or also known as the Giant Toad in Costa Rica, has been introduced to different environments in relatively warmer climates all over the world. In Australia, after its introduction to control pestilence in cane fields in the Northeast of the country, the frog became a pest itself. Because of the Giant Toad’s ability to adapt and its penchant for eating most anything, the cane toad is now considered an invasive species in Australia. Giant Toads were most likely brought into the banana plantations of Límon Province, Costa Rica, as a pestilence control, but many of the frogs were most likely living in the rainforest long before they were used to control pestilence.
The toxin, which the toads produce as a defense mechanism, known as bufotoxin or bufotenin has been found to be useful in treating a number of medical ailments including for uses in cardiac surgery in China, and is being tested for its uses in prostate cancer. It has also been used as a food source in Peru, for making poisoned arrows in Central and South America and as an aphrodisiac and hair restorative in Japan.
Where to see it in Costa Rica: widespread
Diet: insects, small rodents, shrews, lizards, smaller amphibians, vegetation
Habitat: Lowland tropical forest, cloud forests, rainforests, woodland
Size: length=3.9 in-5.9 in weight=5 lbs. (females are larger than males)
Species: Rhinella Marina, Bufo Marinus, Rana Marina