cane toad

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A toad, native to North, Central, and South America, that was introduced to North Queensland, Australia, in June 1935 to control the grey-backed cane beetle and the frenchie beetle, two pests of sugar cane. The 100 imported individuals began unseasonal breeding almost immediately and within six months there were 60 000 toads. They spread through Queensland and by 2004 were advancing by 30–50 km/yr into the Northern Territory and 5 km/yr in northern New South Wales. The toads are large: a female may weigh 2.5 kg and be 26 cm long. Their skin secretions are highly toxic to vertebrates. They represent a hazard to domestic animals and wildlife and are classed as pests. Although cane toads eat grey-backed cane beetles and frenchie beetles when they encounter them, they were ineffective as control agents and the sugar-cane pests are now controlled by insecticides.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation.

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