Cane Toad Invasions

Cane Toad Invasions

With the recent rains in the North of the country cane toads are on the move. If you live elsewhere in the country, don’t think the toads will not come to you. We know of many cane toads who have hitched their way South and West in banana boxes and caused problems for pets.

Cane toads are highly toxic and pets can find it tempting to pick one up in their mouths or lick them. When they feel threatened, cane toads release a toxin, called bufotoxin, from special glands at the back of their head. The toxin is a thick, milky substance that easily sticks to the inside of an animal’s mouth. The toxin is then absorbed through the surface of the mouth where it exerts its more serious toxic effects on the rest of the body.

Symptoms of cane toad poisoning include:

– mouth irritation causing the gums to appear bright red and the animal to paw at the mouth and foam/drool from the mouth
– vomiting
– wobbliness when walking
– pupils of the eyes may dilate
– panting
– shaking and seizures occur in serious cases and are life-threatening

What should you do if your pet has licked a cane toad or had one in its mouth?

– Thoroughly wet a cloth/towel with cold tap water and wipe the gums, inside cheeks/lips, tongue and roof of the mouth
– Continue to do this for 10-20 minutes until all of the milky, sticky toxin is removed
– Rinse the cloth thoroughly between wipes
– Most pets tolerate this procedure but do be careful your pet does not bite you
– Do not use a hose to rinse the mouth out: it is not effective as the toxin is very sticky and is dangerous as it is easy for the water to enter the airways causing your pet to have trouble breathing and you may even accidentally drown your pet

After this decontamination procedure, call the Australian Animal Poisons Centre for further advice on whether your pet should be seen by a veterinarian. Our service is free to all pet owners. Phone: 1300 TOX PET (1300 869 738).