Venomous Cane Toads

Posted in Wildlife A-Z | May 12, 2010 | Comment Now

Venomous cane toads have been much maligned in recent times. They gained a bad reputation after they were released into the Australian ecosystem in 1935. They were introduced in Australia to destroy the population of cane beetles. However, this turned out to be a major failure. Instead, the cane toads had extensive breeding and reproduced in large numbers.

Nearly 3000 cane toads were introduced among the sugarcane plantations in north Queensland in the year 1935. Their population now runs into millions. Their habitat includes thousands of square miles of northeastern Australia. Presently, they are viewed as pests. A lot of government efforts are directed toward eradicating these toads. Citizens have been told to collect and dispose these toads.

Cane toads are large amphibians having dry and warty skin. They are native to south United States, tropical regions of South America, and Central America. They have healthy numbers in these regions. In their natural habitat, the numbers can be managed.

They have bred in Australia in large numbers since there are hardly any natural predators. They also breed easily. In addition, they have plenty of food, which includes pet food. They steal these food intended for pets from bowls which are placed outside Australian homes.

They have had a profound impact on the ecosystem of Australia. The native species of toads have been killed by consuming cane toads. Pets and humans have also been poisoned. There has been eradication of native fauna that served as prey for the cane toads. They have also reduced numbers of prey for insectivores, including skinks.

Their venom is a mixture of toxins that affects normal heart functioning. The venom is present in the entire body. It is secreted in the form of a milky substance from the parotid glands, which are located over the shoulders of the toad. Although envenomation is painful, it seldom causes death in humans. However, some individuals have lost their life in the process of eating cane toads and their eggs.

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