It’s important to realize that all frogs and toads have poisonous glands in their skin, though most of them are not strong enough to affect a human and are designed to discourage predators. When a frog or toad is threatened, they ooze a poison from the glands.
Some frogs and toads are more poisonous than others.
8 Poisonous Frogs And Toads In The United States
The eight most poisonous frogs and toads in the United States include:
1. Pickerel Frog
Scientific name: Lithobates palustris.
Common name: pickerel frog.
Pickerel frogs are medium-sized frogs that are tan or gray with irregular dark brown rectangular marks in two rows down their backs. The rectangular markings are blended to create a long rectangle down the back.
They have a yellow to orange pattern on the inside of the hind legs. They do not have webbed feet, which allows them to live comfortably on land.
Pickerel frogs can be found from Wisconsin to Minnesota and Iowa to Texas, Louisiana, most of Mississippi, Alabama, Carolina, and Georgia.
These frogs live in a range of habitats, usually not too far from water, which they rely on for breeding. They are mostly active from April to October. Their defense is to emit a secretion which is known to cause irritation in humans and is toxic to some predators. Most animals leave these frogs alone
2. Green-and-black Poison Dart Frog
Scientific name: Dendrobates auratus.
Common name: green-and-black poison dart frog, green poison frog.
Green and black poison dart frogs can grow up to one inch for females, with males being a little smaller.
They are mint green in color, though this can range from line to emerald green and blue or yellow. They have dark patches.
They are common in humid areas, including Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and the Pacific Coast.
These are highly toxic and the smallest amount of toxic can result in heart failure in an adult human. The good news is that they only release their poison when threatened.
They hunt, court, and live in trees. They are small frogs that are not able to jump too far. They have sucker discs on their toes to help them climb trees.
3. American Toad
Scientific name: Anaxyrus americanus.
Common name: American toad.
There are three American toads, the Dwarf American Toad, the Hudson Bay Toad, and the Eastern American toad, which is a medium-sized toad, growing up to around 9cm.
They have varied colors and patterns. Their skin changes based on humidity, temperature, and habitat. Colors can change from yellow to black with specks or as a solid color.
They do hibernate during the winter months. Their spots have only one or two warts with enlarged warts on the lower legs. They have a spotted belly. Some have red coloration with red warts o their bodies.
The American toad needs a semi-permanent freshwater source, a pool or pond with shallow water, which they use for breeding. They also look for dense vegetation for hunting. They are very active when it rains.
They are common in every southeastern state in North America, except for Florida.
The dwarf American toad is also toxic to humans and can cause skin irritation if you come into contact with its poison.
These are the smaller version of the American toad, rowing to around 6cm. They are dark red with reduced spots or no spots on their backs. They have some small red warts with black rings around them.
The Hudson Bay toad is a Canadian species, a subspecies of the American toad with red coloring on their side and many warts. They are known to interbreed with the American toad, causing this species to start losing their red coloration.
They also secrete a poisonous substance that can irritate human eyes and mucus membranes. Their poison is dangerous to dogs and cats when ingested.
4. Colorado River Toad
Scientific name: Incilius alvarius.
Common name: Colorado River toad, Sonoran Desert toad.
The Colorado river toad is also referred to as the Sonoran Toad, native to the United States.
They secrete a poison, known as bufotoxin, which can result in the death of pets that have come into contact with a toad, whether they have eaten it or licked it.
These toads spend most of their time underground and only come out in the rainy seasons.
They are endangered in California.
The Colorado river toad is dark brown to olive green with a cream belly, growing up to around seven inches. They have smooth and shiny skin with some warts and an oval ring behind each eye. They also have visible glands on their back legs.
This toad is highly toxic to dogs and cats, causing irritation to the eyes and mucus glands in humans.
5. Western Toad
Scientific name: Anaxyrus boreas.
Common name: western toad.
Western toads are large toads that can grow up to 13cm and are often seen during wet seasons or close to water.
They can jump well for a toad and can be found from southern Alaska to western British Columbia and through to South to Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Baja California. They are also common in Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, and Colorado. They are common in the Rocky Mountains in riparian forests and in the shrubs and willows in Colorado.
They are found in mountain meadows and deciduous forests where there is plenty of water for breeding.
The Western toad can be fatal to humans if humans lick or try to eat the toad. They secrete poison from their glands and are very dangerous to dogs and cats.
6. Fowler’s Toad
Scientific name: Anaxyrus fowleri.
Common name: Fowler’s toad.
Fowler’s toads are dry, with wart-like skin and short legs. They are medium-sized toads, growing to 9.5cm, and are gray to brown with some being green to red. They sometimes have yellow on their bodies and a light stripe down their backs.
Fowler toads are common throughout most of the eastern United States but are not common in the coastal plain of South Carolina and Georgia or most of Florida. They are often encountered in forest areas, usually close to water, whether permanent or temporary.
These nocturnal toads spend most of their time on land, only going into the water for breeding.
While considered less poisonous than the American toad, these toads still secrete a bitter-tasting poison when threatened, which can cause drooling and vomiting in pets, along with pawing of the face after the pet has licked or picked up the toad.
7. Cane Toad
Scientific name: Rhinella marina.
Common name: Cane toad, giant neotropical toad, marine toad.
Cane toads were purposely introduced to South and Central America in the 1930s as a way to manage pests that were feeding off the sugarcane.
The toads were not successful, not being able to jump high enough to catch the pests. They ate bird eggs and small mammals. They burrow and come out during the wet seasons.
They are common in Florida, Hawaii, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.
They are too brown or gray in color and can grow up to nine inches. There are dark spots on their backs and they have wart-like skin.
Pets that have licked or picked up a cane toad can experience drooling and/or foaming of the mouth, red gums, and vomiting. Pets are known to fall or stumble, be disorientated, have seizures and a high temperature, and can go into cardiac arrest.
It’s recommended to rinse the pet’s mouth with water while holding its head forward to reduce the risk of the toxins going down the throat.
8. Oak Toad
Scientific name: Anaxyrus quercicus.
Common name: oak toad.
Oak toads have dark spots and a light stripe down their back. Males have a white belly and a loose flap of skin under the mouth, which is their vocal sac. Females have dark spots on their bellies and no vocal sac.
These toads prefer sandy pine flat woods, oak scrub, pine and pine-oak woods, oak savannas, and maritime forests. They can be found across the Coastal Plains in the Southeastern United States, from Florida to eastern Louisiana.
The oak toad has parotoid glands filled with poisonous fluids that they use to protect themselves when threatened against predators, including your dog or cat.
The poison is enough to protect them and can cause vomiting and disorientation in pets, but is not dangerous to humans, though if you do tough one of these toads and then your eyes, you can experience discomfort and itching.
Frog and Toad Poisoning In Pets
Pets are generally curious and they will get themselves into trouble, sniffing out and playing with frogs and toads in your yard or when out in nature.
This can be exceptionally dangerous for your pet as some toads and frogs are more toxic than others and can cause serious harm.
Once your pet has licked, picked up, or ingested a toxic frog or toad, they will start drooling and frothing at the mouth within minutes. Their gums may start turning red and they may show signs of being in pain, this usually includes pawing at the mouth.
Next, they will start with vomiting and diarrhea, which can quickly progress to stumbling, seizures, and abnormal eye movement with problems breathing.
Immediate veterinary treatment is needed to reduce the risk of death.
The treatment provided to pets is determined by the signs that develop. Usually, they are given intravenous fluids and anti-nausea medication, along with medications to regulate their heart rate and control seizures.
The outcome is determined by the type of toad or frog and how quickly veterinary care was provided. Rapid treatment is necessary for a positive outcome.
Once a pet survives toad or frog poisoning, there are no other long-term effects.
It’s not always easy to get your pet to a vet within minutes, some people live far from the nearest vet. Taking preventative measures is the best way to reduce the risk of your pet dying due to a frog or toad bite.
Always flush the mouth with plenty o fresh and running water. Do not allow the poison to go down the throat. Hold the dog or cat’s head downwards, which helps reduce the risk of the poison being swallowed. Rinse the eyes, face, and mouth thoroughly, and then get your pet to the vet.
To prevent the risk of your pet being exposed to toxic toads and frogs, you will want to ensure that they have less risk of encountering them. Always keep dogs on a leash when taking them out in nature, stay outside with your pets if you are concerned you have toads or frogs in your yard.
Mow your lawn, keep the grass short, and do not feed your pet outside, which attracts insects and in turn toads and frogs. Don’t overwater your garden, as many toads will move to a temporary or permanent water source during their breeding season.
What To Do When You See Poisonous Frogs Or Toads
If you see a poisonous frog in your yard, you will want to move any pets and children away. You can use a pool net if you have. You can also put them in a tall container to release them away from the home.
Never touch the frog or toad with your hands, as they could be toxic. Wear gloves when trying to remove a toad and wash your hands thoroughly before you touch anything inside your home once you have released the toad.
How to Prevent Frogs
There are a few things you can do to prevent frogs and toads in your yard, keeping them away from the house. These include:
- Turn off outside lights to reduce attracting flying insects. Frogs and toads will quickly identify your home with an abundance of food. Consider using a sensor for outdoor lights, so they only come on when you walk past and are not on all the time.
- Ensure any water is properly drained. Frogs and toads lay their eggs in water, such as ponds, If you don’t offer a steady water supply, they will lose interest in your property.
- Keep your yard neat. Mow your lawn regularly and remove weeds, cut back bushes. Frogs and toads love to hide behind shrubs and vegetation. With a neat garden, you don’t give them anywhere to hide.
- Watch your pond and swimming pool for tadpoles and remove them before they have a chance to hatch.
- Make a bleach spray, which is an effective way to eradicate frogs and toads from the garden. Ensure you wear gloves and a mask. Use some bleach mixed in water and spray it around your property. Frogs and toads do not like the smell of bleach. Do not spray onto your plants.
- Frogs have wet skins, so salt is not their best friend. Sprinkle some salt around your property, under shrubs, and at the edge of fencing to deter frogs and toads.
- Coffee grounds are an effective way to deter amphibian pests. They don’t like coffee grounds on their bodies and will avoid it. Use the same as you would the salt, sprinkling them around your property and garden.
- It is possible you are one of the many people that have a bad reaction to frog poison, therefore ensure you wear gloves, shoes, and socks when catching and releasing a frog or toad in your home or yard.
- Frogs and toads follow insects, which means you could have ticks, flies, mosquitoes, and even snakes on your property. Ensure you cover your arms and legs when working with the frog while wearing bug repellent.
- Always wear protective gear when spraying insecticides and pesticides around your property.
While most poisonous frogs and toads are not lethal to humans, they can cause discomfort.
Always wash your hands thoroughly if you have been in contact with a frog before touching anything else. Pets and young children are smaller and can lick or pick up a frog and then touch something else.
Always use water and rinse their mouth, eyes, and face with fresh running water, and then head to your doctor or vet.