Florida has seen its share of natural disasters, but nothing has looked quite like this. Citizens on the outskirts of Miami are struggling with an invasion of poisonous bufo toads, also known as cane toads, a non-native species that appears to be multiplying rapidly.
Thousands of baby toads have materialized in the Mirabella neighborhood of Palm Beach Gardens in recent weeks, with people complaining they can barely walk without stepping on one. The toads are taking up residence in pools and lounging on patios and driveways. They enjoy snacking on native species, including bugs and frogs.
In addition to being biblically weird, the toads pose a threat to pets: They can secrete a milky toxin that can be deadly to pets if ingested. In both humans and animals, the secretion can irritate eyes and skin.
The influx of the toads can be traced to a pet dealer who accidentally released 100 of them into the area in 1955. Mark Holladay, a technician with a toad removal service named Toad Busters, told CBS Miami that a warm winter and heavy rain caused the toads to enter a breeding cycle. Colder weather usually means a fraction of toads dying off, but many appear to have endured and are now emerging from a nearby lake. Holladay said another wave of offspring will likely appear in the coming weeks.
[h/t The Washington Post]