Invasive toads have the ability to poison crocodiles and make dogs addicted, leading Australia to call for their eradication.
This toad not only kills crocodiles but can also make dogs addicted after coming into contact with them.
Toads can kill crocodiles in 15 minutes
During the dry season in Kimberley, located in northern Australia, the rivers here are so shallow that they are just puddles. At this time, crocodiles often gather in large groups. According to Dr. Georgia Ward-Fear, an ecologist at Macquarie University, water depletion makes food sources scarce. Crocodiles and cane toads also go to places with water to quench their thirst.
However, many clashes occurred, and as a result, crocodiles died en masse because of cane toads. The total amount of venom in the cane toad’s body is enough to kill a large crocodile, and usually, the unfortunate predator will die 15 minutes after eating the cane toad.
However, this is just one of the consequences caused by cane toads since 102 individuals were imported into Australia 100 years ago. Initially, cane toads were raised for the purpose of eating beetles that harm sugarcane plants. This toad species proved useless in controlling beetles but spread from north to western Australia.
The Cane toad (scientific name: Rhinella marina) is a species of toad belonging to the genus Rhinella, family Bufonidae. Cane toads live in tropical areas of Central and South America; their average length is only 10-15 cm, and the largest can be up to 24 cm. This is the largest toad in the world.
Individual cane toads can be gray, yellowish, red-brown, or olive-brown. The belly is cream-colored and may have black or brown markings. The pupil is horizontal, and the iris is yellow. The hind toes have metacarpals at the base, and the front toes have no webbing. They have a lifespan of 10 to 15 years in the wild and can live significantly longer in captivity.
Toads turn dogs into “addicts”
There are venom glands on the surface of the cane toad’s body, and if the dose is sufficient, this poison can make people have difficulty breathing and even go blind. Like adult toads, cane toad eggs and tadpoles are poisonous, but their toxicity is lower. The skin of cane toads is also highly toxic; above their eyes is a tumor-like protrusion that extends to the nose; behind each eye, a large poisonous gland is hidden in those tumors.
When threatened, these glands secrete a milky white fluid called toad toxin. This is a mixture of 14 compounds, many of which are harmful to many animals, including a Benfotiamine chemical.
According to Australian law, this substance is listed as a Schedule 9 drug along with heroin and LSD. Thus, each cane toad is a mobile “factory” for hallucinogens.
In particular, after being exposed to hallucinogens on the skin of cane toads, dogs quickly become “addicts” like using drugs. After each “use of stimulants”, dogs have symptoms such as head shaking, drooling, and vomiting. In severe cases, it can also cause muscle spasms, convulsions, arrhythmia, and even death.
Due to the lack of natural enemies, the presence of cane toads in Australia has caused native frog-eating predators such as freshwater crocodiles, iguanas, snakes and quolls to try to eat them and be killed by them. their toxins. After a while, the number of cane toads in Australia quickly increased to more than 1.5 billion.
Currently, cane toads occupy more than 1 million square kilometers of land in Australia, equivalent to the combined area of Texas and Oklahoma. People tried to catch them manually or set up fences, but they could not stop this toad species’ egg-laying rate and development.
According to Watergum’s invasive species expert Nikki Tomsett, a female toad can give birth to up to 70,000 tadpoles per year and live up to 15 years old. This will affect the entire food chain. In previous years, the government encouraged people to hunt and kill cane toads, and local residents also introduced many countermeasures to “torture” and control their numbers in an extremely cruel way.
Currently, many experts have instructed people to kill cane toads using the least painful euthanasia method for them, which is freezing. The freezing method involves placing the toads in the refrigerator for 24 hours to make them go limp, then transferring them to the freezer to kill them painlessly.
Although there have been positive results, many people consider this method to only be effective in the short term. They believe that to reduce the toad population truly, it is necessary to prevent them from reproducing and trapping tadpoles is the most effective method.