This is a discussion on AUS Press x2: Cane toads 'the great hitchhikers' within the Press / News Items forums, part of the General Discussion & News category; THE AGE (Melbourne, Australia) 15 December 09 Cane toad hitchhikes to Melbourne (Michelle Draper) AAP: A Melbourne teenager with a ...
THE AGE (Melbourne, Australia) 15 December 09 Cane toad hitchhikes to Melbourne (Michelle Draper)
AAP: A Melbourne teenager with a fondness for frogs got a slimy surprise when a creature he plucked from a palm tree at Kmart turned out to be a dreaded cane toad, sparking a biosecurity alert across the state.
Frog lover Paul O'Neill, 14, was in a hurry to catch his bus when he spotted the mud-covered creature perched on the pot plant, so he simply bundled it up and headed to his home in Hampton, in Melbourne's south.
But as he was washing the "frog" in the sink, he was squirted with venom.
The reptile and amphibian enthusiast, who has about 20 frogs and a carpet python called Mr Dudley, knew immediately he'd found a cane toad.
The destructive toads are rampant across Queensland and have encroached into parts of NSW and the Northern Territory but have so far not settled in Victoria.
Victoria's Department of Primary Industries on Tuesday said it believed this toad had hitched a ride to the Cheltenham store on one of about 7,000 assorted palms delivered to Kmart stores from a Queensland wholesaler.
"I could tell it was a cane toad because it squirted venom on me when I got it home," Paul told AAP on Tuesday.
Paul quickly contacted a ranger when he realised it was a cane toad but said he wasn't disappointed he couldn't keep the latest addition to his frog family.
"I didn't really want to keep it because it was poisonous," he said.
The hitchhiking toad, measuring between five and eight centimetres, was expected to be euthanased later this week.
Paul's discovery sparked a biosecurity alert in Victoria but searches by Kmart staff and Victoria's Department of Primary Industries (DPI) found no trace of other cane toads.
However, about 2,500 palms have been sold by Kmart and Victorians who may have bought any were urged to check for cane toads.
DPI manager of landscape protection Brendan Roughead said there was still a low chance cane toads could establish in Victoria.
"Biologically speaking, Victoria is not a cane toad friendly environment because the climate is too cold," Mr Roughead said in a statement.
"Many species of native frogs are often wrongly identified as cane toads so we are urging people who suspect they have found a cane toad not to hurt it."
People who suspect they have found a cane toad are asked to photograph it and report it to the DPI.
Mr Roughead said people should not handle frogs or toads as they were susceptible to disease after being touched.
The DPI can be contacted on 136 186 and photographs can be emailed to email@example.com.
BRISBANE TIMES (Australia) 16 December 09 Cane toads 'the great hitchhikers' (Daniel Hurst)
It may seem to be the stuff of legends - a cane toad hitching a ride from Queensland to Victoria on a palm tree shipment.
But experts say the discovery of the unlikely visitor to Melbourne last week shows why the reviled creatures deserve to be known as "the great hitchhikers".
Victorian authorities issued a statewide biosecurity alert after a 14-year-old frog enthusiast found the toad on a palm tree at a local Kmart store.
The Victorian Department of Primary Industries suspects the toad grabbed a ride on a shipment of 7000 assorted palms from a wholesaler based in the Sunshine State.
A spokeswoman for Queensland's Department of Primary Industries said the long journey was unsurprising.
"Cane toads are the great hitchhikers," she told brisbanetimes.com.au.
"They like dark and damp places."
She said cane toads were not a "declared" species in Queensland so no action could be taken against people for moving them around, but urged common sense and check items before moving them.
James Cook University cane toad expert Ross Alford agreed.
"They're pretty good at hitching rides," he said.
"It's basically things like the bases of pot plants, they get rolled up in people's swags or when they pack away tents.
"They also sometimes get carried around in the underside of pallets because that hide under there and get taken away."
Professor Alford said cane toads had spread south from Queensland into northern New South Wales, but most experts believed they could not survive in Victoria because of the colder climate.
The Victorian DPI's landscape protection manager, Brendan Roughead, said the chance of toads establishing there was low.
Investigations by Kmart staff and DPI officers had found no trace of any other cane toads, he said.
Cane toads 'the great hitchhikers'
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