|Published:||Jul 21, 2013 5:56 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Jul 21, 2013 7:58 PM EDT|
SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. - Toxic toads are now on Sanibel Island and wildlife officials are urging pet owners to be aware. The giant toads are known as "cane" or "marine" toads and pose a serious threat to wildlife.
"We're talking a toad that reaches about 6-inches. The largest one on record reached 6-pounds," said Invasive Species Biologist Bill Thomas II with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Last week, ten toads were discovered in a temporary wetland near Middle Gulf Drive and Fulgar Street.
"It was the first ever documented finding of a giant marine or cane toad on Sanibel Island," Thomas said.
The invasive amphibians are native to Central America, originally introduced to Florida in the 1950's to help control sugar cane beetles.
"They will eat anything that they can get in their month. They will eat mammals, they will eat little birds, little frogs. They will eat the dog food out of the bowl," said Steve Masek with the Calusa Nature Center.
When they are not eating, they're protecting themselves from any possible predators.
"As soon as they feel freaked out like something is gonna hurt them, automatically they release the poison from these glands," Masek said.
The poison is potentially fatal to small pets like cats and dogs.
"The dogs luckily haven't found them yet but it's definitely something that worries us," said dog-owner Violeta Wegner.
Wildlife officials say the wet weather is contributing to the migration.
If you do see one you're asked to contact the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation at 239-472-3984.