A recent post on the BEINGS (Bahamians Educated in Natural and Geographic Sciences) Facebook page includes a photo of a large toad found on New Providence as well as a question as to it’s identity. The photo undoubtedly is of a Cane toad (aka Marine toad) Rhinella marina. I did a quick look through a recently compiled list of reptiles and amphibians of The Bahamas and found that they aren’t reported from the islands making this sighting potentially important.
Cane toads are known around the world as a pernicious invasive pest. They have been intentionally introduced in tropical and subtropical farmlands thorughout the world to control insects. The problem is that they are highly toxic, and very prolific. Animals that naively consume or even bite one of these toads may die as a result of the powerful toxin in their skin.
Cane toads, native to the Neotropics including Central and northern South America, have been introduced and are now established throughout the greater Caribbean region including areas near to The Bahamas (south Florida, Cuba, Hispaniola). That they have not been documented in The Bahamas is a bit of a shocker given that they were historically introduced into sugar cane plantations (as the name suggests). Today, they are likely transported while buried in the root balls of nursery plants.
Any sightings of these toads should be reported to Bahamas National Trust http://www.bnt.bs or another local environmental organization such as Friends of the Environment http://www.friendsoftheenvironment.org . Alternatively, you can contact me below and I will forward the info on.
Wikipedia page for Cane toad: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cane_toad
Link to Island List of Reptiles and Amphibians: http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/bulletin/vol51no2.pdf