Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. How about a riddle? What's big, covered with warts, has a mouth that extends nearly from ear to ear, great big bulging eyes, spends most of its time sitting, eats almost anything that moves and can fit into its cavernous mouth, and is an alien? If you're thinking Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars movies, you've got the right idea. But the creature I'm talking about is for real and is common in South Florida: it's called the giant toad, marine toad, or cane toad, and in parts of Central America it's known as the ‘spring chicken’. The giant toad dwarfs native frogs and toads and even eats them. It can reach nine inches in length, though most adults are five to six inches long. With its bulbous body, though, it can seem nearly as large as a frisbee. The giant toad is native to Latin America, but was introduced to Florida at least by 1936 to help control insect pests in sugar cane fields. Now it can be found through much of the Florida peninsula. This week on 'Wild Things', we'll take a close look at the giant toad, its life history, and how it has spread around the world.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.