sapo de caña (Rhinella marina), giant neotropical toad or marine toad. It previously belonged to the genus Bufo, the original species of toads, but was moved to the genus Rhinella marina. It is the largest toad in the world and is completely a terrestrial amphibian, going to the water only to reproduce.

Cane toad
Cane toad

Features

The cane toad is a vertebrate animal which can measure between 10 - 15 cm in length with a maximum of 24 cm, the females being larger than the males. The largest toads are usually found in lower density populations and have a life expectancy of 10-15 years in the wild. In captivity they can live for about 35 years.

The skin is dry and warty. It has distinct ridges above its eyes that go down to its muzzle. Her pupils are horizontal. The toes have a fleshy mesh at their base, and the toes are mesh-free. They can be gray, yellowish, red-brown, or olive brown. The ventral surface is cream-colored and may have spots in shades of brown or black. And their irises are golden.

Behind each eye is the parotoid gland, which makes your skin toxic. This helps the toad to avoid being eaten by other animals, if one of them does, they will probably die. When they are young, their glands can also release poison, but they are less toxic than adults because they are smaller. This makes it a dangerous animal, for both animals and humans.

It has a high tolerance to water loss; some can withstand a 52,6% loss of body water, allowing them to survive outside of tropical environments.

It can also be used to obtain its toxins (called bufotoxin) to implement them in arrows, generally used by the tribes of South America. And there is also evidence that they have been used as narcotics by the local population.

Behavior

The cane toad is A wild animal, with a calm attitude and daytime habits. They tend to be solitary animals, although they are capable of encountering each other to reproduce. To communicate with each other, they use different vocalizations that have not yet been deciphered.

Habitat

It is native to South Central America and the continent, although due to its voracious appetite it has been used to eradicate pests against the cane beetle (Dermolepida albohirtum), from which its popular name comes. Therefore, we can find the species on several islands throughout Oceania and in the Caribbean and as in northern Australia. It has been used so much that the cane toad itself is now considered a pest and invasive species in the regions where it was introduced.

Food

Like many other species of toads and frogs, the cane toad is a carnivorous animal eating mainly insects, although due to their size, they also hunt larger animals such as rodents, reptiles, birds and even other amphibians. In non-native areas, it can feed on plants, dog food, and even household garbage.

Its hunting method is similar to other toads. It can identify its prey by its movement and its vision. However, it is known that it can also identify food by smell.

Predators

The cane toad is the prey of numerous carnivorous animals, in its native habitat its predators are the Alligators, snakes, eels. Outside its native zone, it has predators whistling kiteHaliastur sphenurus), Australian water ratHydromys chrysogaster), the black ratRattus rattus) y the aquatic monitorVaranus salvator).

Some species have learned to hunt the toad without being affected by its toxins. Some crows turn the toad over and eat it from the belly where it cannot release toxins. Other species such as the meat ants (Iridomyrmex purpureus) are able to eat the toad, because it stays still while releasing toxins and they have time to kill the toad.

Reproduction

The cane toad is an oviparous animal which also undergoes metamorphosis and begins its life with an egg, of a diameter of approximately 1,7-2,0 mm, which is placed in long strings of jelly in the water. The female lays between about 8.000 to 25.000 eggs at a time. The eggs are black, toxic, and covered by a membrane. The speed at which an egg hatches is due to temperature. It can take 48 hours to almost a week.

Tadpoles are small, uniformly black, tails short, and vary from 10 to 25 mm long. It takes between 12 and 60 days to become juvenile, although the normal is four weeks.

When they emerge they are about 1 cm long and grow rapidly (about 0,647mm per day) although growth will depend on genus and region. Rapid growth is important for their survival, as young toads lose their protective toxin as eggs and have not yet developed the bufotoxin-producing parotoid glands. lacking this defense, it is estimated that only 0,5% become adult toads.

In its native habitats, reproduction begins when the warmest period arrives, which coincides with the beginning of the wet season.

State of conservation

Currently, the Cane Toad is thriving in the world as it has been introduced to many islands during the XNUMXth century. Since then it has become a pest in many countries since they represent a threat to other species, and it develops without having any predators.

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