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Residents Asked To Look Out For Escaped Cane Toad

Monday 14 April 2003

Residents Asked To Look Out For Escaped Cane Toad

Henderson residents have been asked to be on the look out for a suspect juvenile cane toad.

Amelia Pascoe, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Exotic Animal Response coordinator said the toad appears to have entered the country last month on luggage returning from Fiji.

Ms Pascoe said that as only a single toad had been released it was highly unlikely that it would become established in New Zealand. But there is a risk that it may have carried new pests and diseases that could threaten our native frog populations.

Characterised by their warty skin, bony ridges over each eye and an enlarged gland on each shoulder, the cane toad can produce a secretion that can cause both skin and eye irritations in humans and a slowing of the heart if ingested. In extreme cases, animals such as pigs, dogs and cats have been known to die after eating a cane toad. They can grow up to 15 centimetres in length and range from an olive-brown to reddish-brown on their backs with a brown flecked pale white or yellowish belly.

On advice from the Ministry of Heath, Ms Pascoe said that people attempting to capture the toad should wear gloves and even protective glasses as cane toads under extreme duress can spray the toxic secretion through the pores of their skin for up to a distance of one metre. Any exposed skin that comes in contact with the toad’s secretions should be thoroughly washed, and people should avoid rubbing eyes, smoking a cigarette or eating prior to washing hands.

“If people see an animal they believe to be the cane toad it would be enormous help to us, taking due precautions, if they were able to contain it in a moist container with plenty of air and contact MAF’s toll-free number. Alternatively, if reluctant to catch the toad, place a bucket with a rock on top of this container while contacting MAF,” she said.

MAF is being assisted by the Auckland Regional Council and the Department of Conservation in its efforts to recover the toad.

For more information on cane toads go to: www.maf.govt.nz/cane-toads
If you suspect you have found a cane toad please contact the MAF Exotic Disease and Pest Emergency Hotline on 0800 809 966.

ENDS

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