Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cane Toads

Cane toads, also known as Giant Neotropical Toad, are five-inch long creatures with poisonous skin glands, originally from Latin America. Until 1935, they were not found in Australia. That year, they were introduced to control a beetle infestation, and have themselves become a plague. You can see this all, in stunning clarity, in Cane Toads: The Conquest (in 3D!). In the documentary, they cover a variety of methods the Australians are trying to control the toads.

However, some people think that the toads are a resource. As covered in the Outback edition of Bizarre Foods, there are clubs that go out at night and cook frog legs, taking care not to put any poison in the food. A game meat processor is even hoping to export the frog legs to the Chinese.

The frogs are not only a possible source of food, but also of drugs. The venom can be extracted, dried, and then smoked. The frogs can also be simply licked, although the effect is not as pronounced. The cane toads are not alone in their ability to create "sense of wonder and well-being". Many poisonous amphibians, including several found in the US, can produce similar effects, and "a healthy toad can fetch up to $8" in California. However, one should be careful about entering this trade, as a proposed law in South Carolina would "sentence violators [of amphibian trafficking] to 60 hours of public service in a local zoo."

And interestingly, humans are not the only species to use toads as a drug. There is at least one story about a dog repeatedly licking frogs, and then wandering about, all "disoriented and withdrawn, soporific and glassy-eyed." The toads are incredibly tough, as evidenced by cane toad that was swallowed by a dog and hung out in its stomach for 40 minutes. It now lives in the animal hospital where the dog was taken and given an injection to vomit it up.

Indestructible, poisonous, and everywhere. Clearly the only way to get rid of the plague of frogs is to tell Moses that we'll let his people go.

1 comment:

  1. How to I get permission to use the image of Pharoah with frogs at the "plague of frogs" link above?

    It is for the newsletter of the Women's Ministry of my church. (non-profit)

    Please reply to