Fakename’s Animal Planet: Bufo Marinus

It’s been a while since we visited Fakename’s Animal Planet, which is populated by some of the more bizarre creatures on Planet Earth.  Recently a visitor from the UK commented on my post about Muscovy ducks, and re-reading that post, I realized that I had promised to discuss Bufo Marinus.  Its common names include Giant Toad, Cane Toad, and Marine Toad.  “Cane Toad” comes from its success at eating sugar cane beetles.  Native to Central and South America, it’s been introduced virtually everywhere sugar cane is grown.  This falls into the category of  “Be careful what you wish for”.  (See:  nutria; kudzu.)  They also eat birds, other frogs, rodents, and small children left unattended.  “Marine Toad” came from the mistaken idea that they live in water as well as on land.  In fact, besides drinking water, the only time they venture into it is to lay eggs–8,000 to 25, 000 at a time.  Wow!  Going into labor must be quite a bitch for the female Bufo.

So technically, “Giant Toad” is the most accurate of its common names.  To illustrate that accuracy, consider this photo for perspective: 

bufo_marinus_1

I first encountered this creature on the pages of the Palm Beach Post, which ran an article about Bufo no doubt as a public service to Florida newbies such as myself.  Be on the lookout, it said.  Because on top of their distinct unattractiveness and intimidating size, they are poisonous.  They can kill dogs.  Oh great, I said.  Not only do I have alligators in the pond behind my house, a family of rats living in my attic, and mosquitoes the size of Cessna 150’s, now I have to worry about giant poisonous toads?  Welcome to Florida, Fakename. 

As luck would have it, no more than a week later at around dusk, my two dogs erupted into a big racket which, translated, meant, “We’ve cornered something!”  “Cornered” was not exactly the right word.  There in the back yard, squarely and unflinchingly facing the two dogs, was a noble member of  the Bufo species.  I recognized it from its picture in the newspaper.  Um, “Shoo!” I said.  It either couldn’t hear me over the din the dogs were making, or it didn’t speak English.  In hindsight, I’m glad it didn’t run.  I mean hop.  Because then the dogs would surely have chased it, with possibly lethal results. 

I wasn’t about to touch it, since it’s the skin that is toxic.  They have glands which secrete a poison called Bufotoxin, one component of which is Bufotenin, which is hallucinogenic.  I mention this only in case you would like to engage in the practice of  toad licking.  So I came up with Plan B, which was first to get the dogs inside the house.  Then to encourage Bufo to move, with the aid of say, a broom.  I did not have to ask it twice.  Once the dogs were inside, in fact, it wasted no time in trying to hop its way out of Dodge.  I did have to open the back gate for it, since it was not quite yet tall enough to unlatch it on its own. 

You may be asking yourself, why didn’t Fakename kill it?  My reply is, with what?  No seriously, Fakename does a limited amount of killing.  Her killing is confined to very small univited creatures inside the house, like tiny spiders.  If you live outside and stay there, Fakename is perfectly happy to let you.  Plus toads, even poisonous ones, are one of the best pest control systems around.  I mean, I personally could not bring myself to eat a Cessna 150, but Bufos love them. 
 

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7 responses to “Fakename’s Animal Planet: Bufo Marinus

  1. Hi Fakename: Just FYI — spencercourt has thrice deleted my follow on comments. So kindly don’t interpret my silence on his blog as signifying anything other than his selective censorship; which is entirely consistent with someone who is long on opinion but short on facts. His denying any contribution that American GI’s made to the Western Front during WWII is the piece de’ resistance IMHO.

    I think you are right that I was too hard on TerriTerri — but she used the word Lemmings … and regardless of one’s bias — we can all agree that no political viewpoint has a monopoly on lemmings. Also, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Middle East … and can read both Arabic and Hebrew — and there really was a coincidental, entirely innocent, but freaky literary parallel there. (If TerriTerri is reading this — a shoutout to you! Please accept my apology if you took offense — your comment got caught in the crossfire. 😉 But please do consider that lemmings are around us….!

    Fakename — if you don’t want to publish this comment, I won’t take offense …. since you may not want your blog to be politicized. It’s your call… I found this entire experience interesting however, as it confirmed my suspicions about some people who claim to have “thick skins.”

  2. Rocky, maybe a post about toads is not the right venue (!), but it is okay with me. It is certainly too late for my blog not to be politicized. Almost all my blogs are political in nature, unless they are about books (many of which are political) or animals. I have taken my own hits. At least one person has stopped reading me because he said I diminish and dismiss people who don’t agree with me. My reply was: I only diminish and dismiss the 30% of people you haven’t already diminished and dismissed. Never let it be said that I am not up to the challenge, but given the choice, I prefer peacemaking. For the last two days I’ve engaged in a spirited debate with a “friend” on Facebook, who started the whole thing by saying that Obama is a coward, since he was out of the country when Holder announced that Khalid Sheihk Mohammed and others would be tried in federal court in NYC. By the way, as a New Yorker, I would be interested in your take on that.
    Lemmings are indeed among us, and I personally have to try very hard not to see a lemming around every corner. Hope that clarifies me somewhat…to you.

  3. Fakename:
    In my opinion, the debate should turn entirely on whether military law or civilian law applies in this case, and not about the geography of the trial. This is not a legal issue of “first impression” see:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_impression_(law) ….

    Inevitably, there will be political grandstanding by both sides– but the reasoned analysis should be dry and boring with references to leather-bound books, and 50 page briefs filled with lots of Latin.

    I am not a legal scholar and my knee-jerk reaction is irrelevant to the correct technical legal answer.

    I will however observe that the Attorney General has a constitutional duty beyond his allegiance to the President… and the President has a constitutional duty to the people of the United States. If one or both of these people fail to uphold their duty, I have comfort that our system will ultimately self-correct … just as some of the extreme positions taken by the Bush white house on Gitmo were corrected by the Supreme Court.

    Our legal system really works and that is what we all have to remember. The path may be imperfect, messy and slow, but our Founding Fathers set up an amazing system … Bottom line: Let’s not miss the forest from the trees.

  4. Thanks, Rocky. And now…can we talk about toads? 🙂

  5. I replied to your email — did it not arrive? Check your spam filter??

  6. I got it…the email for you you suggested I use did not work, however.

  7. The cane toad is a scourge in Australia, they were imported by cane growers to control the cane beetle, they failed and so in turn, they became the pest, so far Western Australia have none….but they are on the march – only a few miles away from our border…these vile and ugly creatures are a threat to our wildlife here, hopefully scientists will find a way of doing away with them.
    There have been reports that to get a cheap thrill , young people lick their poison glands…not something I would do – eurrrgh !!

    below is a link to an amusing short film about the horrible creatures….

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