|Facts and Knowledge:
The cane toad is the largest toad in the world. The glands on its neck produce a poison so toxic that it can kill most animals. The cane toad is also known as the giant toad or the marine toad. It was introduced into Australia from Hawaii in the 1930s with the mistaken belief that it would control the destructive sugar cane beetle.
Habitat: Cane toads are often found living around houses and in yards or wooded areas. They hide during the day under loose floorboards, stones, logs, and fallen leaves. Some burrow into soft soil to escape the sun’s heat. At night they emerge to search for food. Any bird, snake or small mammal that eats a cane toad will be poisoned and die almost instantly.
Breeding: The male cane toad waits near a water hole and makes a loud, bellowing call to attract a mate. The female lays her eggs in water, where the male fertilizes them. The long string of protective jelly that contains the eggs becomes wrapped around vegetation. The female can lay 10,000 eggs at one time and more than 35,000 in a single year. As a female toad comes to the water, the waiting male jumps onto her back to mate.
The tadpoles emerge from the eggs a week later and feed on vegetation and dead animal matter. As they mature, they begin to grow both forelimbs and hind limbs, and their tails gradually disappear. Despite the large size of its parents, the newly developed cane toad is tiny – no more than a quarter of an inch long at this point. But it grows very quickly and generally reaches a length of four inches by the end of its first year.
Food and Feeding: The cane toad eats any creature small enough to be swallowed. Its diet consists of insects (especially moths and beetles), nocturnal reptiles, small mammals and birds, and even frogs and smaller toads. To catch moths, the cane toad frequents houses, where lights attract large numbers of moths and other insects. Cane toads both hunt and lie in wait for creatures to come within range. They catch prey with their sticky tongues and swallow it whole without killing it first.
Cane Toads in Australia: Cane toads were collected in Hawaii in the early 1930s and shipped to Queensland, Australia. The toads did not reduce the population of the cane beetle as intended but, rather, they bred rapidly and became pests themselves. The toads now threaten the existence of Australia’s native amphibians and reptiles. Because of their large numbers, the toads and their spawn (eggs) clog water holes and make it impossible for sheep and cattle to drink from them.
Related Species: There are about
300 species of toad worldwide. Frogs and toads together form the largest
order of amphibians.
Features of the Cane Toad: The cane toad is the largest toad in the world. It is over twice the length and four times the weight of the common toad Bufo bufo. Large poison glands bulge on the sides of the toad’s neck. Males also have bristly backs, which distinguish them from females.
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