Are Toads Poisonous to Humans?

All toads have lumps on the back of their heads, these lumps are known as paratoid glands that produce a chemical substance.  In some toads what this means is that it makes them taste horrible to the predator that is trying to eat it.  A few species on every continent however have been known to produce highly toxic substances that can be harmful to humans.  They secrete the substance in self defense.

The skin of the adult cane toad is toxic.  This particular species of toad also has paratoid glands located behind the eyes and others across its back.  When these toads feel threatened, their glands secrete a milky white fluid known as bufotoxin.  Components of this toxin are poisonous to many animals and it is true that there have even been human deaths due to the consumption of these toads.

Bufotenin is classified as a class 1 drug under Australian law right alongside drugs such as heroin.  It is though that the effects of bufotenin are similar to that of mild poisoning: the stimulation which includes mild hallucinations that last for less than an hour. All stages of a cane toad’s life cycle are toxic.  The poison produced by its glands act dangerously upon the heart.  Quite a few humans have died in countries around the world from consuming the creature in toad soup or from consuming boiled toad eggs.  A cane toad responds to threat by turning on its side so that its paratoid glands are directed towards its predator.  The poison then usually oozes out of the glands, however these toads can also squirt a fine spray of it for a short distance if they are handled roughly.  The poison is then absorbed through mucous membranes such as the eyes, mouth, and nose.  In humans this toxin has been known to cause intense pain, temporary blindness and inflammation.

These toads are poisonous to pets and several dogs have been known to die after ingesting the toads.  Signs of poisoning include profuse salivation, twitching, vomiting, shallow breating, collapse of the hind limbs, etc.  Cardiac arrest and death can even occur within a mere 15 minutes or so after ingesting the toad.

First aid treatment for this type of situation includes washing the infected area with a lot of water.  Seeking medical attention if the symptoms persist is crucial.  When handling any toad, it is a good rule of thumb to always protect the eyes, wear gloves, and thoroughly wash your hands before and after touching the animal.


  1. says

    Well mine is still a tadpole so I don’t know what it’s going to turn into but hopefully not a toad I would hope it would just be a regular frog. I will try to see what he or she is and let y’all know what know what it turns into.

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