Cane toads are one of Australia’s most omnipresent and annoying species of vermin. Recently, however, it was discovered that the toads pay a price for spreading so widely and rapidly: arthritis.
A recent study discovered that the toads that jump the fastest (that is the largest toads) pay for their dominance with arthritis.
The Cane toad, native to South and Central America, thrives in Australia. The toads spread rapidly to new territory, and can travel up to a kilometer in a single night. The toads that can travel fastest have an advantage because they can populate new territory more quickly. The fastest toads have longer legs and are generally larger.
But toads aren’t built for long distance movement. All the activity has been found to contribute to arthritis of the spine, as well as a higher susceptibility to a harmful bacteria.
The toads will be hard pressed to find sympathy in Australia. The animals have wreaked havoc on the Australian ecosystem since being introduced in Queensland in 1935 in an attempt to rid sugarcane fields of cane beetles.
There are an estimated 200 million Cane toads in Australia. Predators, and frequently pets, which eat the toads are killed by the poisonous creatures. They also compete with native frogs for habitat and food, damaging the natural ecosystem.
The research team, headed by professors David Skelly and Rick Shine, hopes that by studying the effects of invasion on the toad invaders, they can potentially discover new methods of controlling them.
*In other news ecotality have found a home for these toads.*
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