Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Crikey, mate! He's HUGE!

Steve Irwin would have loved this great find!

Group finds toad the size of a small dog

DARWIN, Australia - An environmental group said Tuesday it had captured a "monster" toad the size of a small dog.

With a body the size of a football and weighing nearly 2 pounds, the toad is among the largest specimens ever captured in Australia, according to Frogwatch coordinator Graeme Sawyer.

"It's huge, to put it mildly," he said. "The biggest toads are usually females but this one was a rampant male ... I would hate to meet his big sister."

Frogwatch, which is dedicated to wiping out a toxic toad species that has killed countless Australian animals, picked up the 15-inch-long cane toad during a raid on a pond outside the northern city of Darwin late Monday.

Cane toads were imported from South America during the 1930s in a failed attempt to control beetles on Australia's northern sugar cane plantations. The poisonous toads have proven fatal to Australia's delicate ecosystems, killing millions of native animals from snakes to the small crocodiles that eat them.

As part of its so-called "Toad Buster" project, Frogwatch conducts regular raids on local water holes, blinding the toads with bright lights then scooping them up by the dozen.

"We kill them with carbon dioxide gas, stockpile them in a big freezer and then put them through a liquid fertilizer process" that renders the toads nontoxic, Sawyer said.

"It turns out to be sensational fertilizer," he added.


beepbeepitsme said...

When I was a kid, quite a few years ago, you couldn't walk downstairs at night without stepping on a cane toad. There were literally thousands of the buggers. Turn the outside light on and there was always a teeming, hopping mass of them all over the lawn.

As cruel as it sounds and as cruel as it was, we used to practise our golf swings on them. And then of course there was the use of slug guns, (BB guns), which lots of kids had which added to our "childhood fun of toad killing."

They were originally brought into australia as a means of pest control for the cane beetle. The cane beetle was chewing up the sugar cane and hence it was thought wise to bring in a predator that would chomp the cane beetle.

Little did they know at this stage, that the cane toad would go on to be the much bigger pest and devatate australian wildwife.

(I was born in a sugar-cane producing town.)

L>T said...

I'm glad they can at least make fertilizer out of the nasty things. I wouldn't want the job of mashing up toads though.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Hey, they found Mr. Toad! Mole, Ratty & Mr. Badger will be thrilled when they get my email! They can finally take his picture off the milk cartons.
Wonder what happened to his clothes & his car?

BEAJ said...

You know what is the best fact about cane toads. Google "cane toads evolution legs"
They have evolved longer legs in a very short period of time.
The smaller leg ones still exist but are in the minority.

Stardust said...

beep - *shiver*...how often is there a toad problem in Aussie? I was thinking about visiting a friend in Melbourne in the next year or two...but first I need to find out more about what to expect in the land downunder!
What a mess things turn out to be when humans start messing around with nature!

l>t - ewwww!

ka - I think this Mr Toadie turned into Incredible Hulk Toad and his close split off and he got too big for his car. (Aren't we an imaginative bunch?)

beaj - thanks for that link...that's quite interesting. I was talking to my sister (who used to believe in science and I though she hasn't said anything I sense she is leaning more and more into creationism since joining a fundamentalist religion. I was trying to explain the frog thing to her and how many species seem to be getting bigger in size and she never responded and changed the subject. :-S

Stardust said...

I found a few stories about the longer-legged toads. HERE'S ONE HERE.
Toxic toads bound across the northern tropics of Australia faster than ever, thanks to the evolution of longer legs in the few short decades since humans introduced them to their own little paradise.

beepbeepitsme said...

RE stardust:

You won't come across toads in the southern part of australia. They like mostly the northern areas where I live, and frankly, I haven't seen a toad in a long time.

BEAJ said...

I just would hate to put my head in the sand when it comes to scientific discoveries like your sister must.
The world makes so much sense when you consider evolution.
Check this out

This is what evolution is all about. Big snakes who can eat cane toads have died out, but smaller snakes who can't were better adapted to live and breed. And it doesn't take a whole lot of time when the environment is drastically changed.

Stardust said...

beepbeep - That's good to know! I've been a city girl, then suburbanite my whole live and have seen a frog hopping around free maybe twice in my whole life, and those were small enough to hide in your hand.

Stardust said...

beaj - To be fair, my sister is a very intelligent person, and has a very important job for a very large research facility...and she is going to classes to become a lab tech (metallurgy) so science is a very big deal with her job. However, her grandkids are being raised with the creationism, and she seems to follow what her daughter's family believes and supports them in what they are doing, so her silence when things like evolution are brought up as well as other things that make one question, and since she is part of a denomination which takes the bible as 100% literally (Baptist), I assume by that silence that she is in disagreement with me. (My sister and I are very close and we just don't talk about religion which is for the best, I think. It's the only thing we cannot discuss...otherwise she is my best friend.)

The way my siblings and I were raised to learn about science and to question stuff and to look things up and investigate something we wanted to know more about. My father still does that...he wonders about something and starts "digging" for answers...considering more than one answer for something. That has stayed with me.

BEAJ said...

No offense to you or your sister, I was just going by what you said about her.

Stardust said...

beaj - No need to apologize...I know what you were saying. I should have added that this is a case where a person is educated and then fundamentalist religion seems to make people start thinking that what they were taught about science, and other things are somehow wrong or bad. Her fundamentalist beliefs are the only thing that is a *wedge* between us, whereas before she started with this Baptist stuff, nothing could come between us. Now I feel that she "pities" me because I am not going to somewhere over the rainbow when I die. It's such a silly thing to come between two normally close people. Like I say...religion divides!

GhostRose said...

Harvey Denton would love to own one of those... :-) (He was a mad collecter of toads ouut of the League of Gentlemen (tv series))