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Enter the plague: Australian hunt for cane toads ends

Enter the plague: Australian hunt for cane toads ends

Cane toads (scientifically Bufo marinus or Rhinella marina) originally come from South America. It was introduced to Australia in 1935 with the idea of ​​using it to control pests on sugarcane plantations. But the project backfired badly: the animals multiplied rapidly and became a nuisance.

They are omnivores and attack everything – insects, spiders, worms and snails, but also small mammals such as small mice. They are mostly active at night. Because many Australian animals have no resistance to toad venom, some mammals, snakes and reptiles are at serious risk from the invasion.

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Beetles in sugarcane plantations aren't enough for frogs – they basically eat whatever they can find (and fit in their mouths).

200 million poison dart frogs on the move

According to fishing regulator Watergum, the frogs live to be about ten years old. Females can produce up to 35,000 eggs per brood. At least 200 million of these creatures now inhabit the country. “This means every cane toad removed counts!” Environmentalists assert.

The animals have spread from Queensland to the Northern Territory, Western Australia and along the north-eastern coast of New South Wales, according to the New South Wales Government's “Cane Toad Control Guide”. Large-scale community hunting in parts of the country is seen as a competition in which people go out in groups and try to collect as many animals as possible.

“Humane Killing” via the refrigerator and freezer combination

Watergam says the hunt is action-packed and fun. But it is important to kill animals “humanely.” There are many instructions for this on the Internet. “Cane toads deserve to be treated kindly and humanely; after all, it is not their fault that they are on the wrong continent,” Watergum wrote on its website.

The best way is to place a container containing the frogs in the refrigerator for 24 hours. “During this cooling phase, frogs peacefully fall into torpor, a semi-comatose state, similar to hibernation.” You will no longer feel pain. The frogs must then be placed in the refrigerator for another 24 hours, where they will then die.

The organization warns that immediate freezing without prior cooling may cause significant pain to animals. In addition, “zombie” experiments have already occurred: if animals were frozen directly, they could still be alive after thawing, Watergum campaigner Emily Vincent warned to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Frog Golf” and Frog Racing

While toads are widespread in Australia, they are not treated with such care everywhere: “toad golf” and “cricket,” where live animals are used as balls, regularly spark protests from animal rights activists. Frog races are held in pubs or at folk festivals, and it is not uncommon for the animal to be kissed if you win. People are also trying to do something with the animals that have been killed – for example, they are trying to see if fertilizer can be made from frog venom, and money and handbags are now being made from frog skin.

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