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Cane toad

The Cane Toad (Bufo marinus) is a toad native to Hawaii and introduced to Australia in 1935 in an attempt to control the cane grubs devestating sugar cane crops. The Cane Toad proved well-suited to its new environment but uninterested in the grubs, which live below the soil, or the beetles the grubs grow into, which fly well above it. The toads do eat anything up to the size of a mouse, and have even been known to attempt to eat ping pong balls.

Though there were originally only 40 toads released in Queensland, a fertile female can produce up to 40,000 offsping in a year; the tadpoles of Cane Toads mature earlier than other tadpoles in Australia, limiting their competition options for food. Also to the toads advantage are the sacs of poison on their backs, which propel poison outward when harassed. The poison can blind an adult human for six hours or more and can kill children and small animals within a few minutes. For this reason the toads have no natural predators in Australia except perhaps the occasional attack by the Torresian Crow that has learned how to kill them safely.

The toads, however, are not easily provoked and are frequently kept as pets. In spite of the dedicated efforts of many drivers, in the last 70 years the toads have steadily spread from Queensland along the north coast and towards the center of the continent.



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