Mar 28, 2007

Useful Pest

Wowsies. banno8, Julia, Aaron, Andrea, and Sarah all emailed me this news story. Thanks, all, for keeping us informed!

It seems that a monster cane toad, "w
ith a body the size of a football and weighing nearly 2 pounds," was just discovered in Darwin, Australia. It is among the largest specimens every captured.

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.
But there is a silver lining to this amphibious and pesty cloud. The "Toad Buster" project, in which the Frogwatch conducts regular raids on local water holes, blinds the toads with bright lights then scoops 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. "It turns out to be sensational fertilizer."

I guess even pests can be useful.

Photo source: Yahoo!


k said...

Boooh! That's so sad! :(

I guess they have to do SOMETHING with them ... And it's great that it can be something useful ... But still.

I just happen to love toads ... If it were mice, then it would just be funny. (Mouse fertilizer! See, that's funny.)

ScaredOfGars said...

I was thinking that this was the toad whose toxins are also hallucinogens. Wikipedia says I'm right and also has a picture of a purse made out of a cane toad. Which is just the weirdest thing I've seen all day.

Arachnophile said...

I understand where you are coming from k but this is one of the most responsible efforts I've heard of. C02 is a much more environmentally responsible and humane methods of putting these destructive lil' guys "to sleep." AND actually using the bodies rather than just wasting them is a great idea. ;)

It sucks, it's unfair because people made the mess in the mean time but it's REALLY unfair the damage that's been done to Australian wildlife. I love toads too but, they belong where they belong. Cudos to the organizers of this effort for at least being smart about it. :)

Again, k, I understand though.

WilliamWatch said...

We used to whack them around the back yard with a golf club or cricket bat when I was a kid. Or catch them alive and put them in a plastic bag, then freeze them to death.

I know it sounds nasty, but only a Queenslander (which I am) understands the level of destruction they have on our country.

Callandrea said...

Fantastic movie on the cane toad infestation (seriously, it's cult classic for Bio students on campus)!


Raging Wombat said...

That purse is outrageous! I know I shouldn't want one, but I do.

Anonymous said...

I've seen videos of ravens down there who have learned how to eat the Cain toads without being poisoned. Apparently, they birds flip the toad onto their back, and get at their bellies, which contain little to no poison... or something.

Arachnophile said...

You've got to love those clever lil' Corvids. There's lot's of good eating on one of those toads if you know to start from underneat. ;)

ScaredOfGars said...

Wait, Kit, so does this mean that the toads are disemboweled... alive? Yikes.

k, which also stands for kit -- weird! said...

Oh, I know it's ultimately a very good thing that the toads are being dealt with, especially in a humane and environmentally friendly way. I just, you know, like toads.

Scaredofgars -- If Wikipedia says that this toad has toxins which are used as Shamanic hallucinogens, then Wikipedia is wrong. That toad is Bufo alvarius, the Colorado River Toad, a native of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and New Mexico. The toxins of the Cane Toad, Bufo marinus, are just that -- toxins.

Raging Wombat said...

No. NOOOO! Wikipedia is never wrong! Never!

Anonymous said...

That would make a HUGE purse =p

Arachnophile said...

Good to know then - so no expiramental cane-toad-licking you kids! ;)

Thanks for the info kit. I got to look after a Bufo americanus with a broken leg once. He was one big, burly dude and he was wolfing down the camel-crickets as big as my thumb like nobodies buisness. He was beyond cool.