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Pet Health Education
A bite size desert danger

August 19, 2009

Sonoran Desert ToadLoving life in the desert, for most residents, is innate. The majestic scenery and flood of everlasting sunshine make this corner of our state conducive to a variety of outdoor activities.

However, all this beauty is not without its dangers. Every environment has potential pitfalls and the desert is certainly not an exception. With monsoon season upon us, the rains bring out one of our smaller desert dwellers – the bufo alvarius; also known as The Colorado River Toad or Sonoran Desert Toad.

The bufo is carnivorous, eating small rodents, insects, small reptiles and other toad species. They have a long, sticky tongue which aids them in catching prey. It lives in both desert and semi-arid areas. They are semi-aquatic and breed in small pools of water found following summer rains. After completing approximately 30 days as tadpoles, they move onto dry land. Once mature they can reach 4-7 inches long; the perfect size to fit into a pet’s mouth.

The dangerous physical aspect of these toads lies in the poison glands behind their ears. These glands secret a toxin potent enough to kill a grown dog. Within thirty minutes of ingesting this toxin, dogs can exhibit such signs as hypersalivation, disorientation, and even death. Pets exhibiting these symptoms should be seen immediately by their veterinarian.

Encounters with our local wildlife may be unavoidable; however, there are preventive measures pet owners can take to help keep their family members safe. Not leaving a pet unattended outside is the safest approach to help your pet avoid desert dangers.
To read more about other desert dangers visit

This article is courtesy of Animal Health Services, 37555 N. Cave Creek Rd.