Invasive giant toad species found in Taiwan

On of the top 100 invasive species in the world – the cane toad (Rhinella marina), has been found in Nantou County, Taiwan, according to the Nantou Forest Management Office.

An amphibian conservation volunteer team recently discovered the toads in a vegetable garden in Caotun Township, Nantou County. The team undertook a search and removed 27 individuals from the garden.

The Nantou Forest Management Office contacted Professor Yang Yiru of National Dong Hwa University, and in cooperation with conservation volunteers and personnel from the Special Biological Conservation Center, further searches in the area turned up more of the invasive toad species. A total of 50 toads have been found so far, the forest management office said.

The team is working with Nantou County Government and other parties to formulate an emergency removal strategy using the current site of discovery as the core area and expanding using a grid system to thoroughly search and remove the toads.

The Nantou Forest Management Office said that the toads, also known as “marine toads” and “giant neotropical toad” are originally native to South America.

The toads can reach a maximum body-length of 30 centimeters and have amazing appetites and powers of predation. In addition, the toads have venom glands behind their ears, and if provoked by a predator can spray the deadly venom up to one meter. This makes them a threat to native predators and pet cats and dogs.

picture of cane toad showing poison glands
Poison glands behind the ear of the toad.

The cane toad can lay from 8,000 to 30,000 eggs at a time, and even the tadpoles are poisonous. Once the pest spreads it can have a very serious effect on the natural ecology.

The Nantou Forest Management Office urged people to report to the “Amphibian Conservation Volunteers” Facebook group ( https://www.fb.com/groups/froghome/ ) if they find traces of the toads , or call the 1999 hotline Call the Nantou County Government to help speed up their removal.

In Australia, the species was deliberately introduced to the country in the 1930s by scientists in an attempt to control another invasive species – the cane beetle. However, the cure failed, and became worse than the original disease itself.

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