Cane Toads found in Wauchope

The discovery of a suspicious-looking amphibian in Randall Street Wauchope on Monday (12 June) triggered a call to the FAWNA Wildlife Rescue Hotline.  FAWNA responder, Cheyne Flanagan, an experienced amphibian rehabilitator, confirmed the discovery as a Cane Toad, Bufo marinus, an introduced pest that is not normally found as far south as Wauchope.

It is hoped that this Cane Toad was a hitchhiker on a southbound train, or on a freight vehicle making a delivery to one of the many businesses near that part of Wauchope.  FAWNA’s President Meredith Ryan asks that people are vigilant and if they see an unidentified and suspicious looking amphibian that they place a container over it weighed down by a brick or rock and call the FAWNA 24 hour Hotline on 6581 4141.  People should not handle cane toads without gloves as their skin is toxic to humans and animals.  Provided gloves are worn the cane toad could be picked up and put in a bucket with a secure cover. The wildlife group asks that people do not kill or handle without gloves any unidentified amphibian as it might be an important local frog.  The hygienic handling of all amphibians is important in preventing the spread of the deadly chytrid fungus.

Cane Toads were introduced into Queensland sugar cane fields in 1935 in an attempt to combat the harm caused to crops by the pernicious cane beetle and its larvae.  The introduction was a spectacular failure and the cane toads thrived and have since become a major pest species spreading widely into northern NSW western Queensland and as far west as the NT and WA.  The toads are toxic to native animals, birds and reptiles that might predate upon them, and domestic pets are also at risk.  Several cane toad aversion studies are being undertaken in an attempt to lessen the harm caused to wildlife by this introduced pest.

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Cane Toads have venom-secreting poison glands (known as parotoid glands) or swellings on each shoulder where the poison is released when they are threatened. If ingested, this venom can cause rapid heartbeat, excessive salivation, convulsions and paralysis and can result in death for many native animals.