Toxic Cane Toad Invader Found in Minnesota Hardware Store: 'Shocked'

An employee at a hardware store in Minnesota received a slimy surprise when they found a cane toad in a shipment of plants. The problem is... there are no cane toads in Minnesota.

The employee brought the amphibious hitchhiker to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota (WRC) in Roseville on Tuesday.

"Our front-desk volunteer who admitted the toad was shocked to see such a large, unusual toad when she looked in the bucket that the client was carrying," Brittney Yohannes, communications and development director of the state's Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (WRC), told Newsweek. "She immediately knew it was not a species native to Minnesota."

While veterinary staff members at the WRC were not able to immediately identify the species, a local expert recognized it as a cane toad.

Cane toad in Minnesota
Photo of the cane toad found in a Minnesota hardware store. Cane toads are native to Central and South America and are rarely found this far north. Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota

Cane toads are large amphibians native to South and Central America, although they are also found as an invasive species in Florida and Northern Australia. On average, cane toads grow to weigh about 3lbs, as per estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey. However, in January a cane toad, nicknamed "Toadzilla," found in Australia, clocked in at a whopping 5.95 pounds, about the same as a small human baby.

Cane toads are a nuisance to local wildlife in the regions where they have been introduced, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has said. This is because they are highly toxic, releasing a milky-white toxin from glands behind their ears and across their backs. This toxin is deadly to many native species and, in rare cases, can be fatal to humans. Cane toad eggs also contain this toxin, which can kill native animals that consume them.

It is unclear where this toad had hitchhiked from, but it is very unusual to see cane toads so far north. "That toad certainly garnered a lot of excitement on Facebook," Yohannes said.

The WRC is a nonprofit wildlife hospital that works to rehabilitate local species and release them back into their native habitats. "Unfortunately we cannot do that with this toad," Yohannes said.

Instead, the toad has been transferred to the Minnesota Herpetological Society, a nonprofit that specializes in frogs and toads. The society is working to find an appropriate placement for the animal.

"We are glad the client cared enough to bring this hitchhiker to [the] WRC," Yohannes said. "Minnesota is frigid and covered in snow right now, and this toad would not have survived if the client had released it outside. As a nonprofit, it is our mission to be a resource to wildlife in need, even the hitchhikers that find themselves far from home."

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