Cane Toad World – A Monument to an Introduced Pest!
Cane Toad World is located in the small town of Gordonvale, just outside the major tourist centre of Cairns, in Australia, and is my New Tourist Attraction of the week. And this one is a bit bizarre!
A Short Cane Toad History Lesson
Cane Toads were imported from Hawaii to Australia in the 1930’s to help control the Cane Beetle grub, which was affecting the cash crop of Sugar Cane. The were first introduced in the north Queensland area.
Unfortunately, no one figured out that the cane beetle could fly, and that the toads had not evolved wings to hunt them down and eat them.
Hence, with no predators, the toad multiplied dramatically and now their range extends southwards into New South Wales, and west into the Northern Territory.
To give you an idea of distance, that’s about 2000 kilometres (about 1300 miles) south and west of the introduction point!
These tough and pesky invasive species will live anywhere water is.
There are numerous examples of other stories like this – such as introducing Beavers into South America.
They’re also destructive for native wildlife. Cane Toads will eat anything that will fit into their mouth. Here is an example from Cane Toads – An Unnatural History, which was shot in 1987. They will even eat a Ping Pong Ball.
These poisonous amphibians have been wreaking havoc on Australian wildlife ever since.
Also, their skin contains a poisonous chemical that kills potential predators like snakes and birds. This poison is concentrated in glands near the eyes.
What’s ironic is that one of the chemicals excreted by the cane toad, called Bufotenin, is classified as a Class 1 drug under Australian law, alongside heroin and marijuana. Bufotenin can cause hallucinations, and since Cane Toads excrete this chemical in small amounts, licking one could result in serious illness or death.
If you are caught with the pure form of this substance, a lengthy jail sentence awaits you.
Anyway, with all this dodgy history, I found it funny that an entire park section had been devoted to the environmental pest – which includes a sand pit and playground!
Here are some photos! First of all is the mural!
The Environmental message!
Then there is the sand pit with slippery slides!
If you’re really into biology, you can check out The Cane Toad: The History and Ecology of a Successful Colonist.
More Cane Toad Stuff
There you go! The next time you are in northern Australia, you can visit Cane Toad World!