CAPE CORAL, FLA — To say dogs are curious creatures is an understatement. All you have to do is spend time with "Fancy" the Cape Coral shelter dog, or Kirby, one of her companions, to see that.
But a veterinarian at the Cape Coral Animal Shelter says there's a pest out there, that could turn some harmless curiosity into a deadly encounter for your pet.
"Dogs are curious so when they see them moving the first thing they do is put them in their mouth," said Kristie Welsh, the shelter's Clinic Veterinarian.
The "they" she's referring to would be Cane or "Bufo" toads, an invasive species that are toxic to other animals.
"It can cause seizures and it causes arrhythmias, it causes problems with their vessels and if it's not addressed rapidly there's a high percentage of fatality," said Welsh.
These toads are all over the state and most recently some were spotted in the Cape.
If your pet puts one in its mouth you should take it to the vet and quickly. And you should do this to their mouth, in a downward motion:
"Immediately, you flush it with water," said Welsh.
But what about removing those pesky toads? Well, a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University says the safest way to do it, for you and the frog, involves a chemical found in Orajel.
"The best thing to do is to put benzocaine onto it, onto their back so it kind of puts them into a, almost like a coma-like state. And then put them into the freezer after that," said Matthew Metcalf.
Putting them in the freezer without benzocaine means a painful death.
You should also wear gloves while doing this and toss the toad in the trash after 24 hours.
Professor Metcalf also adds that if you're going to get rid of the toads yourself, you've got to make sure you don't accidentally kill a toad that's native to our state.
"The southern toads are much smaller. And the way to identify them is in between the eyes they have these two ridges that kind of look like horns," said Metcalf.
To help cut down on Cane toads in your yard, Florida Fish and Wildlife recommends that you don't keep food of any kind out there and that you keep your grass and shrubs trimmed so you can spot them.