MARINE OR GIANT TOAD (BUFO MARINUS)
This is the only species of toad found in Bermuda. Toads were brought to Bermuda by Captain Nathaniel Vesey to control garden insects. He had about 24 sent to him from Guyana and released them in Devonshire in 1885. Unlike many biological controls in Bermuda, the toad did what it was introduced to do – eat large numbers of cockroaches, as well as other undesirable garden insects like centipedes.
Bermuda has no true freshwater ponds, and as a result has no native amphibians. Therefore Bufo marinus was able to successfully establish, as it is quite capable of breeding in brackish water, and Bermuda had no native amphibians for it to compete with. Toads are common island-wide but are seldom seen in the cooler months. On summer evenings they can be seen moving around the garden in search of a meal. They are also, unfortunately, regular victims of Bermuda’s busy roads. During the day they hide under vegetation, in tall grass or by burying themselves.
The female is larger than the male, reaching up to 14.5 cm (6״) in length. The female has dark brownish skin with black markings on the back and a few large warts or bumps. The male is yellowish brown and has many smaller warts than the female. Toads lay strings of gelatinous eggs in fresh or brackish water, which hatch into black tadpoles.
Bufo marinus secretes a toxin from enlarged parotid glands behind the eyes as a defence against being eaten. This toxin is harmful to dogs, so it is important to keep your pets away from toads. Toads are not at all aggressive towards humans and do not ‘spray’ their poison. Despite their rather unattractive appearance, toads can be amusing and helpful company in your garden.