A six-pound toad that will eat anything in its way—including small mammals—sounds like something out of a horror B-movie. But that's precisely what park ranger Kylee Gray encountered while doing routine track work in Australia's Conway National Park. Nicknamed Toadzilla by the rangers, the female cane toad weighed 5.95 pounds (2.7 kilograms). This is believed to be a world record for toads.
While cane toads are large, they tend to weigh between one to three pounds. This is why Gray, who had stopped her vehicle to let a snake cross the path, was shocked when she looked down to see a toad the size of a newborn baby. “I reached down and grabbed the cane toad,” she recalls, “and couldn’t believe how big and heavy it was.”
The rangers believe that the toad is female, as they tend to be larger than the males. And while they aren't quite sure of Toadzilla's age, Gray notes that they can live up to 15 years in the wild. After discovering the monster toad, the rangers quickly put the enormous amphibian into a container and removed it from the wild. It was then humanely euthanized.
If you are wondering why the rangers took such action, that's because cane toads are actually an invasive, non-native species. They were introduced to Queensland in 1935 to control the cane beetle population; unfortunately, as often happens, they have caused quite a bit of harm.
Native to South America and mainland Central America, cane toads are prolific breeders with females that lay up to 30,000 eggs in a season. They also have voracious appetites. While we often associate frogs and toads with eating insects, cane toads will feed on both living and dead matter. And, due to their size, they can take down a wide range of prey. This includes small rodents, bats, reptiles, and birds. Indiscriminate eaters, they're even known to scarf down dog food and household waste.
If that weren't enough, the cane toad is also highly toxic. Even tadpoles contain a toxin gland that is deadly to animals when ingested. This danger is coupled with its poisonous skin that is also fatal to animals. All of these factors have made them extremely dangerous to Queensland's ecosystem and, unfortunately, have also made them difficult to eradicate.
To put things into perspective, a little over 100 cane toads were introduced to Australia. Today, the population could be more than 200 million.
So while Toadzilla is undoubtedly fascinating and may end up in the Queensland Museum, the rangers took proper steps to protect all the wildlife in the park.
A ranger in Queensland, Australia, discovered an enormous cane toad weighing 5.96 pounds—a possible world record.
Nicknamed Toadzilla, the toad was removed from the wild, as the species is invasive and highly toxic.
All images via the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science.
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