Considered one of the most successful invasive species in all of Australia, The Cane Toad (rhinella marina) has gained a notorious reputation for spreading its species around Queensland and NSW like wildfire. Sources such as Cane Toads in OZ believe that the cane toad population can spread at an alarming rate of 40 to 60 km a year, the fastest rate of any toad or frog species in the world.
These ‘Monster’ toads lack a predator in Australia and will consume virtually anything that can fit into its mouth. They grow to about 6 inches, weigh as many as 4 pounds, and have two poisonous glands over their shoulders. Mates sexually reproduce through Amplexus, when the male clings on to the female as tight as he can and begins injecting the sperm into the eggs, usually done in water. Females can produce up to 30,000 eggs in a year; and with no predator, the chances of the tadpoles surviving to adulthood are astoundingly high. The males sexual drive is very strong. A moment in “Cane Toads: An Unnatural History” showed a male in Amplexus... with a road-killed female. A film interviewer quoted of how “Strange that the male should be so intent as to fail to notice the female's condition”.
The Cane Toad was introduced to Australia from Hawaii by a group of scientists in 1935 with hopes to control the beetle grub population on the cane fields of NSW and Northeast Queensland. This was a very important economic problem. Sugar Cane is Australia’s most valuable and largest exporting crop in the country (and Continent *wink wink*) and a solution needed to be found very quickly. Since DDT at the time was not invented, the Cane Toad seemed to be the right move for many scientists, except for one person.
An entomologist by the name of W.W Frogatt believed that the invasive species would be a menace to the people and the wildlife of Australia, and almost halted the process of introducing the Cane Toad into Australia. Little did the region know that the “monster” would reign. The 3,000 cane toads introduced into the wild exponentially grew into the millions.Cane toads were everywhere. They were found on streets, in homes, around parks, city sidewalks and any possible pond you can think of in Northeast Australia.
The Cane Toads, ironically, couldn’t eat the grubs on the cane. The habitat was useless to the toads and their inability to climb the stalks of a cane for food would not help it survive. Many people have argued whether the Cane Toad should be a “Pet” or “Pest”. Some residents of the Area take a liking to the Cane Toad. One woman in “Cane Toad: An Unnatural History” spoke about keeping her pet toads safe and if anyone had tried to hurt them, she warned that “there’d be a lot of noise and they’d realize I wasn’t a lady”. One Resident is actually addicted to the cane toad poison and smokes it daily… yes, he SMOKES CANE TOAD. Others have done everything in their power to get rid of them. Whether it was government spending in order to dispose of them, or just simply running them over on the road. All in all, the Cane Toad issue may never be solved.
It’s very difficult to eradicate a species that covers 60,000 km of the Northeast Coast. However, more and more people are now aware of the dangers of invasive species and will conduct further research on how to stop invasive animals like the “Monster” Cane Toad and protect the habitats of other wildlife.