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Wildlife FAQs & Support

African Giant Land Snail


"An unusual invasive species that is now under quarantine in Pasco County is the African Giant land snail. This fist-sized snail can grow to about a foot long and carries the same risk to pets as the Cuban tree frog. They are a host for the rat lungworm and If consumed by a dog it can lead to severe neurological signs. If identified it should be reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission."

Text from our friends at

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Brown Anole


"Another dangerous critter is the brown anole, a small lizard common to our yards and porches in Tampa. Few realize that this is not a native species and that it does pose a serious risk to the cats and dogs who like to hunt them. This lizard is an intermediate host for a parasite called the liver fluke, a worm that will cause blockage of the gall bladder and liver damage when consumed. Yearly bloodwork and special deworming of successful hunters are recommended to clear this parasite. Avoiding consuming these lizards is best. " Text from our friends at 

Image credit: Dr. Steve A. Johnson, UF/IFAS

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Bufo Cane Toad


"...Bufo Cane Toad - a very toxic, invasive species that is now found throughout the Tampa Bay Area. This toad carries a poison in the sacs along its back that can cause seizure, heart arrhythmia and oral irritation if bitten. Its prevalence alongside the non toxic native southern toad makes it important to note the difference. The native has small horn like crests and round back glands, where the Cane toad has no crests and triangular glands. If exposed to the toxic Cane toad rinse out the mouth and bring them in immediately for evaluation to the FWC." - Text from our friends at

Why is the bufo toad so dangerous to animals?


The bufo toad, also known as the cane toad or marine toad, can be dangerous for animals due to the toxins it produces. These toads secrete a white, milky toxin from glands located on their backs. 


When threatened or alarmed, the toads can release the toxin, which is absorbed through the skin, mucous membranes, or by ingestion. Bufotoxin affects the cardiovascular system and nervous system of predators, leading to various harmful effects.


In smaller animals, such as birds or lizards, ingestion of even a small amount of the toad can be lethal. The toxin can cause cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, paralysis, or even death in these animals. Larger animals, such as cats or dogs, may not be killed by the toxin, but can experience severe poisoning, leading to symptoms such as salivation, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, disorientation, weakness, convulsions, and potentially cardiac arrest.


The dangerous nature of bufo toads is also attributed to their invasive nature. Introduced to new habitats outside their native range, such as Australia and certain parts of the United States, they lack natural predators and can rapidly multiply. This increases the risk of encounters with unfamiliar animals that are not aware of the toad's toxicity, leading to more cases of poisoning.


To identify a bufo toad or cane toad, you can look for the following characteristics:


1. Size: Adult bufo toads can grow relatively large, typically measuring 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) in length, though they can occasionally reach up to 9 inches (23 cm).


2. Shape: These toads have a robust and somewhat squat body shape with a large, stocky head.


3. Skin: The skin of the bufo toad is rough and warty, with distinctive large, raised bumps scattered across the body. The toad's coloration can vary and may be gray, brown, olive, or reddish-brown. They often have a creamy-colored belly.


4. Eyes: The eyes of the bufo toad are relatively large, prominent, and forward-facing. They have horizontally oriented, elliptical-shaped pupils.


5. Parotoid glands: On the upper part of each shoulder, bufo toads possess prominent, raised parotoid glands. These glands secrete the toxic milky bufotoxin and are typically characterized by their large, rounded shape.


6. Hind legs: Bufo toads have powerful hind legs, which are adapted for jumping. Their back legs are relatively long, allowing them to cover significant distances in a single leap.


It's important to note that the bufo toad's appearance can vary slightly depending on the specific species or geographical location. If unsure about the identification of a toad, it is recommended to consult with a local expert or wildlife agency for accurate identification. This is especially important because some harmless toads can bear similar physical traits, so it's crucial to differentiate them from the potentially harmful bufo toad.

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Birds & Nests

Emergency Contact: Birds in Helping Hands at 727-365-4592
Is the bird injured?

Look closely for blood, open wounds, bite marks, punctures or ants crawling on it.

Does it feel cold? 

If Yes: Call 727-365-4592

If No keep reading.

Does it have any feathers?

Nestlings have little or no feathers at all. Fledglings are mostly covered with feathers including their wing feathers.

If Yes: Make sure it isn't within reach of dogs or cats.

If No and you can't see a nest call 727-365-4592

If the found bird is within reach of dogs and cats

Place the fledgling backing its nest or in a bush or nearby tree where parents can see it. Bring dogs or cats inside. Watch for adult birds from a safe distance to ensure they tend to the little bird.

If the found bird is NOT within reach of dogs and cats

Leave it alone. It's normal for fledglings to spend some time on the ground while learning to fly. Keep an eye out for adults as they will come to feed and protect their fledgling.

Can you see a nest?

Place the bird back in the nest. Watch from a distance for adults tending the nest.

Build a makeshift nest

If a nest falls from a tree, you can improvise one using a plastic container. Drill holes on the bottom for drainage, line it up with grass, and attach it safely to a tree or bush using zip ties or any suitable cord. Once secure, move the babies to the nest and watch from a distance to ensure the adults find them.

Do's and Don'ts

• Don't give food or fluids to a baby bird unless instructed by a wildlife rehabilitator.

• Don't bathe or wipe clean.

• Do not try to raise; it's illegal without the proper permits.

• Do keep in a dark and warm container with breathing holes.

• Do seek assistance as soon as possible.


Most birds have a poor sense of smell. Touching a baby bird will not make the parents reject it. That's just an old myth.


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Found a baby deer alone?

This photo of a fawn was taken by one of Caring Paws Animal Hospital clients and sent to them, asking for advice. Their office manager reached out to Suncoast Animal League’s Director Rick. He wrote…

“Mother deer rarely hang out with their fawn. If she stayed with her fawn, that would tip off predators to the fawn’s location. They will often place their baby against a house, under an overhang, or behind shrubs.

A fawn by itself is most likely not abandoned, only hiding. Mom is in an area nearby watching her fawn. The two will get together 3 or 4 times a day so the baby can nurse.

So remember, leave them alone and try not to spook them. A fawn’s best defense against natural predators is to stay quiet and hidden.”

And did you know nearly all wildlife in Florida have a season for their babies being born? May through July is typically when fawns are born here so those babies are all around us right now.

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Found a baby deer?


Be Nice to the Awesome Opossums!

The opossum is North America's only Marsupial.

With global warming, ticks and tick-borne diseases are on the rise. Scientists have discovered that a single opossum can consume as many as 5,000 ticks in a season! Those aren't the only pests that opossums eat; they also eat slugs, snails, roaches, spiders, rats, mice, and snakes.

Most people are unaware, that opossums are immune to snake venom. Scientists are studying the protein that opossums have that neutralizes these toxins to help develop better treatments for humans.

Due to their low body temperature and excellent immune system, rabies virus infection has very rarely been documented in opossums.

Opossums will often respond to perceived threats by baring their teeth. Since they have more teeth than any other North American land mammal, 50 to be exact, they can look scary, but are rarely aggressive and will not bite unless you attempt to handle them. Your dog or cat is a far more significant threat to an opossum than the opossum is to them.

When it comes to being a mother, opossums are some of Nature's best. They will carry up to 13 babies(or joeys) in their pouch (or marsupium) for more than 3 months. When the babies are old enough, they will emerge and ride on Mom's back. As they continue to grow, they will fall off, usually one or two at a time. At that point, the young opossum is on its own, even though it may look quite small. Many healthy young opossums are taken from the wild by well-meaning humans when they are actually old enough to fend for themselves.

Information provided by News-Press and CROW -Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife.

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