Cane toad

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In Australia[change | change source]

Nearly 80 years ago, a group of 102 cane toads were sent to Queensland to catch sugar beetles. Cane-growers were concerned about the damage insect larvae were doing to crops. The insects were native to Australia, but bad for the valuable cane crops.

The first cane toads were brought into Queensland by Reginald Mungomery, an entomologist. Before 1935, Australia had no toads. The entire continent, full of various frog species, had no toads. Tough and always moving into new areas, the cane toads started reproducing and expanding outwards every wet season. This "invasion front" moved around 10km a year until the 1960s, when it began speeding up significantly.

Cane toads are rapidly adapting to dry climates, a huge change from their origins in the South American rainforest. They have poison gland in their skin.

Their predators[change | change source]

In their native habitat, a number of fish and reptiles prey on the tadpoles and the adult toad. These include the broad-snouted caiman (Caiman latirostris), the banded cat-eyed snake (Leptodeira annulata), eels (family Anguillidae), various species of killifish,[1] the black rat (Rattus rattus) and the Asian water monitor (Varanus salvator).

They have far fewer predators in Australia but, as time passes, some of the local animals will adapt their behaviour. Already some Australian crows have learned strategies allowing them to feed on cane toads, such as using their beak to flip toads onto their back.[2][3] Opossums of the Didelphis genus likely can eat cane toads with impunity.[4] Meat ants are unaffected by the cane toads' toxins, and therefore are able to kill them.[5] The cane toad's normal response to attack is to stand still and let its toxin kill the attacker, which allows the ants to attack and eat the toad.[6]

References[change | change source]

  1. Tyler, Michael J. 1989. Australian Frogs. Penguin Books, p138-139. ISBN 0-670-90123-7
  2. Bolton, Katrina (2007-09-15). "Toads fall victim to crows in NT – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  3. "Cane Toad (Bufo marinus)". Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  4. "American possums the solution to cane toads in Australia? - Science Show - 20 March 2010". Archived from the original on 2010-03-22. Retrieved 2010-04-26. 
  5. Sweeney, Claire (31 March 2009). "Killer ants are weapons of mass toad destruction". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  6. "Cane Toads". Queensland Museum. Retrieved 2012-07-31. 

Other websites[change | change source]